Which Banana Varieties Are Suitable for Banana Fritters?
Are you overwhelmed by how many banana varieties there are at the market? Do you know which variety is suitable for banana fritters?
It is tough to decide if you don't know because not all bananas are suitable for frying. Some varieties, like the Cavendish, are meant to be eaten fresh. They turn soft and soggy when fried.
You were told the cooking variety is the best. But which one?
Let me try help you here.
What This Article Covers
In this article, I discuss six types suitable for banana fritters. These varieties, grown and available in Southeast Asia, are called by other names in different countries. I refer to them by their Malaysian names, but I have also included some countries' equivalent names. There are also photos of these bananas for easy identification.
If you lived in temperate countries or in a non-banana growing country, you might find these bananas in Asian grocery stores. Alternatively, use plantains (which are also listed in this article and pretty readily available).
So, check out the various flavors you get with these banana varieties and pick your favorite.
The Best Bananas to Make Fritters With
- Pisang Raja (the best and my favorite)
- Pisang Tanduk
- Pisand Abu
- Pisang Nangka
- Pisang Awak (my least favorite)
Plantains are a good option if you can't find any of these bananas. You don't want to use Cavendish bananas at all.
Pisang Raja Is the Best Choice for Banana Fritters
We all have our own favorite banana, but for me, pisang raja is the easy choice. It is the best variety for fritters.
The texture is firm and delectable. They range in color from almost yellow to orange. Their sweetness makes you want to come back for more. On a scale of 1 to 10—10 being very sweet like honey—pisang raja would be a 5.
Pisang raja is mostly exported and is not easily found. Even if you find them, they will cost more compared to other varieties (with the exception being pisang tanduk).
That's the reason why the banana-fritter street vendor sells the pisang abu or pisang nangka variety: they're cheaper.
If you are lucky enough to come across pisang raja in the night market or at your local market, buy them, because they are not easy to come by.
Alternatively, plant pisang raja in your backyard. I have them in my garden, and now have a cheap supply of the best variety for fritters!
English Name: raja banana, Musa Belle banana
Local Name: Pisang Raja (Malaysia/Indonesia), Radja (Philippines), Kluai Khai Boran (Thailand)
Pisang Tanduk or Horn Plantain Is My Second Choice
If you see a banana that is slightly curved, quite long, and looks like a rhinoceros horn, then you have seen a pisang tanduk. It also looks like plantain. Hence, its other name, "horn plantain."
Pisang tanduk has a thick skin that will turn yellow when ripe and is one of the bigger banana varieties. It has a sweet flavor (5 out of 10) and is what fritters are usually made of. They're also often sliced and dried as chips. It is also the most expensive variety listed in this article.
To fry, slice it at an angle, mix it in your favorite batter, then fry.
Pisang tanduk is another one of my favorites for fritters. Try it, and I bet you too will like it.
English Name: Horn plantain
Local Name: Pisang Tanduk (Malaysia/Indonesia), Kluai Nga Chang (Thailand), Tindok (Philippines)
Pisang Abu, Pisang Nipah, Pisang Sabah or Saba Is the Most Popular Variety for Banana Fritters
Pisang abu is also known in other parts of the country as pisang nipah and pisang sabah or saba. It is the most popular variety with street vendors for fritters because it is so easily available, cheap, and tastes reasonably good (scale of 4 for sweetness). Unlike some cooking varieties, pisang abu does not taste good when eaten raw.
This variety is slightly shorter than pisang raja at 3.4–5.9 inches (10–15 cm), but broader in width at 1.2–2.0 inches (3–5 cm) and has a thicker skin. When ripe, the skin will be yellow in color. The fruit has a soft texture and is light cream in color.
English Names: Dwarf orinoco, horse banana or burro, Bluggoe
Local Names: Pisang Abu (Malaysia), Pisang Batu (Java, Indonesia), Largo (Hawaii), Nalla Bontha (India), Matavia (Philippines), Horse Plantain (Jamaica), Kluai Som (Thailand)
Pisang Nangka Is Best for a Sweet and Sour Fritter
Pisang nangka, or jackfruit banana, when cooked smells similar to a jackfruit; hence its name.
The skin is always green, even when ripe. To know if pisang nangka is ripe, do the following:
- Press it gently. If it is soft, then it is ripe.
- Or check the end of it. If the flower bud has dried, turned black, and looks ready to drop off, then it is ripe and good for frying!
The ripe fruit has a soft-firm texture with a light cream color.
If it is overripe, the skin will turn slightly yellowish, and I prefer not to use this for frying, as it will be soggy and oily.
The fried pisang nangka has a sweet and sour taste but with a more sourish flavor to it.
If the sweet pisang raja variety is not your taste, then the sweet and sour pisang nangka is perfect.
English Name: N/A
Local Name: Pisang Nangka (Malaysia/Indonesia), Laknau (Philippines), Kluai Niu Charakne (Thailand)
Pisang Awak, My Least Favorite Variety
Pisang awak is my least favorite variety for cooking. The variety's black seeds are one reason. Another reason is the flat taste and sometimes the slightly bitter taste, or kelat as we say in Malay. It is this distinctive bitter taste that makes this variety a popular ingredient in the banana beer produced in some parts of Africa.
Despite all this, some street vendors use pisang awak for fritters, since they are cheaper.
There are some other varieties of pisang awak that are sweet and without the black seeds, but they are not easy to find at the market.
A ripe pisang awak's skin is a lighter shade of yellow compared to the skin of pisang raja or pisang abu. It is also rounder with a long tip at the end of the fruit.
The plant is known for its leaves rather than its fruits. Pisang awak's leaves are more aromatic, soft, and durable. It is best suited for recipes that use banana leaves as part of their prep work.
English Name: Ducasse
Local Name: Pisang Awak (Malaysia), Pisang Klotok (Indonesia), Kluai nam wa (Thailand), Chek nam va (Cambodia), Kayinja (Uganda), Vietnamita (Cuba), Nyeupe (Kenya), Karpuravalli or Monohar (India), Katali (Philippines)
Plantains, a Good Alternative
If the varieties mentioned earlier are not available at your local Asian grocery stores, the next best alternative is the plantain.
Plantains are almost similar in shape and size to pisang tanduk but are incomparable in taste. It is, however, a good alternative.
Green or under-ripe plantains are difficult to peel, and you will need a knife to peel them. It is easier to peel a ripe plantain, which has yellow skin and is the type suitable for banana fritters. If it has a few brown spots on its yellow skin, that is good, because the plantain is more than ripe and the texture is not so firm. These are usually cheaper than the green, unripe plantains!
To fry, slice it at an angle (similar to pisang tanduk), and mix it with the batter.
Cavendish Bananas Are Not Suitable for This Dish
The Cavendish banana variety is eaten raw and not suitable as banana fritters. The over-ripe or bruised Cavendish, however, can be cooked, and there are several recipes that you can find online for this.
One of the recipes is for a mashed banana fritter or pisang cekodok. This recipe uses only two ingredients and is quick, easy, and tasty.
Did you know that banana plant is not a tree but is an herb? In fact, it is the world's largest herb. You would have thought that this tall plant has a "trunk" made of wood. It does not. Instead, the "trunk" is a series of leaves that tightly overlap each other.
Questions & Answers
Can an eight-month-old baby eat mashed bananas?
Yes, banana puree can be given to an eight-month-old baby