Chuoi chien (Fried Banana) was our dessert for Easter lunch. Crispy on the outside but warm, sweet, and fragrant on the inside–it’s no wonder this is a really common street snack in Vietnam. Made from a variety of small and short bananas known as chuoi xiem (also chuoi su) in Vietnam, it’s also called bananito, mazana, or ladyfinger bananas and has a much sweeter taste and more fragrant smell than your common banana. When ripe, the peel actually turns black. But you’ll be mistaken to think that it’s rotten–these bananas are some of the sweetest and fragrant bananas you’ll ever taste.While buying our bananas, a 7.2 earthquake hit Baja California, hundreds of miles from LA, but I was totally oblivious to the grounds around me shaking and suddenly found myself the only one in the small fruit market with my bag of bananas as everyone ran out to the streets. Now you know the dangers we go through to put this post together.
This is Kim in her Easter Sunday best and this what the chuoi xiem looks like. The blacker the peel, the better–in fact, ours could use another day or so of ripening. You don’t want any green. Ideally you want to use this variety for the vibrant fragrance and sweetness, but if you can’t find it, you can certainly use regular bananas. The batter is a tempura style batter and many brands are available in the Asian markets labeled as “Bot Chuoi Chien.”
Chuoi Chien Fried Bananas
- 2 lbs of ripe bananas (bananito/mazano/xiem variety)
- 1 package of fried banana flour (bot chuoi chien–see below, but any brand will do)
- 1 3/4 cup water or what is directed by your brand of flour mix
- 3 tbs sugar
- 1 ts salt
- 16 oz can of coconut milk–of which save about 3 tbs for the batter.
- frying oil
- Remainder of the coconut milk
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 ts salt
- 3 tbs toasted sesame
Peel and flatten with the banana with a smooth flat surface such as the side of a large knife or other flat surface.
Prepare your batter in a large bowl by adding water and mix well until smooth. Add sugar, salt, and the 3 tbs of coconut milk. Heat the remainder of the coconut milk with the salt, sugar, and bring to simmer and stir frequently. Reduce by half to thick consistency and adjust sweetness to taste and set aside.
Heat a pan or wok with frying oil. Test readiness of the oil by dropping a small droplet of batter–it should sizzle and rise to the top. Dredge the flattened bananas in the batter and fry until golden brown. Drain and serve immediately.
Sprinkle the toasted sesame on the coconut dipping sauce and serve. This recipe is extremely versatile and you can easily add your own personal touches. Experiment with adding cinnamon, sesame, or shredded coconut to the batter.