This easy recipe for deep-fried Banana fritter 炸香蕉 (Zhà xiāng jiāo) is like having dessert in a Chinese restaurant. Sweet bananas dipped in a light batter, fried, and then topped with honey. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and serve with a scoop of ice cream.
Real Chinese Food Is Not Like American Food
I studied Chinese for a year in college and by the end of the 2nd semester, I was hooked on the Mandarin language itself.
As an end-of-the-year celebration, our professor invited us over to his house for a traditional Chinese dinner. It wasn't ANYTHING like the Chinese Food we know here in America.
They lived in a modest-sized house and the GORGEOUS grand piano took up most of the living room. I am sure his wife was also a professor of music. At the front door, we removed our shoes and all sat down at the long rectangular table (it also filled the whole room). The lack of space did not prevent this family from using every inch of it!
The dinner included many firsts, such as eggs soaked in tea (known as Cha Ye Dan/茶叶蛋 or Cha Ji Dan/茶鸡蛋.) I'm always up for a new dining experience and that evening will forever be etched in my mind.
Professor went above and beyond to help us get a taste of his native culture.
Sadly, after the classes ended, I didn't have anyone to talk to in Mandarin. The language eventually left my mind. The only thing I remember now is "Ni Hao." HELLO.
THEN and NOW
I have fond early memories of going to a little Chinese restaurant with my parents. I believe it was called Hunan Gardens. When you walked in it felt more like walking into someone's house. They served these golden brown crispy coated banana slices, drizzled with honey and sesame seeds. They had a delicious contrast between the soft, caramelized banana interior and the crispy, almost buttery exterior. I always looked forward to the dessert.
Those warm and quaint family-run Chinese restaurants have slowly disappeared since the 1970s and 80s. They have been replaced with Chinese Mega Buffets.
The Old Chinese Cookbooks
I have a nice collection of Asian cookbooks that I've gathered over the years. These are just a few of the Chinese books I have.
I scanned through all of my old Chinese cookbooks looking for instructions to make the bananas I remember. Some of the books are bi-lingual and the translations are very simple. The bananas recipe was nowhere to be found in any of the older books. I did find a "Glazed Apples" recipe that looked just like the bananas. I read in Madame Chu's Chinese Cooking School Cook Book from 1975, the following:
"Glazed yucca is the original dessert of Peking from which the glazed bananas or glazed apples so popular in Chinese restaurants in the United States have been copied."
Eventually, in a newer more recent book, I did find a fried bananas recipe but it wasn't up to par. Many of the recipes use eggs or milk however I do not think this would be best for the lightest coating. I decided to review several recipes online, do some translating and pull the best parts of them to create one great recipe you and I can enjoy forever!
Fried Bananas are a Street Food
The Chinese don't eat dessert the way we do in America. Sweets or sweet teas are sometimes served throughout the meal. As a street food, you can find them in many street food stalls and the bustling night markets. In restaurants, we find the addition of ice cream.
Bananas Around the World
Fried bananas are considered street food in countries like Vietnam as well. (Chuối Chiên) Basically, no matter the difference in preparation or part of the world, everybody loves fried bananas as a delicious treat! The origin of fried bananas seems to lead us back to West Africa.
In Thailand, they are called กล้วยแขก (gluay kag) and they often use those very little bananas. You might sometimes see them at the grocery store, but you're not exactly sure what they are used for. When I first saw them I thought, "Kids Lunch Box." But those bananas are called many different names around the world.
Some names for them are:
Mini bananas, Lady Finger Bananas, Baby Nino bananas, Sugar bananas, Sucrier, Murapo, Date bananas, Orito, and Fig bananas. Worldwide, Baby bananas have specific regional names, including Guineo Orito in Ecuador, Pisang Emas and Pisang Mas in Malaysia, Cambures Titiaros in Venezuela, and Amas in the Philippines.
For this recipe, we will use regular bananas.
If you can find those little bananas, they would be perfect for this recipe especially if you are preparing them for a restaurant creation. Otherwise, we are using regular smaller-sized bananas, not over-ripe bananas for this simple recipe. No brown spots. You don't want them to be too mushy.
Step-by-Step Instructions For Deep Fried-Bananas
- Slice bananas into quarters and remove the peel.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Corn Starch, Salt.)
- Add water. Whisk.
- The batter should be thin to drip off of the bananas. Thinner than pancake batter. Add water slowly to achieve this consistency. Add more water if necessary.
- Dip banana into batter and shake off excess.
- Slide gently into the oil, holding for a few seconds so that the banana will float on the top and not touch the bottom of the pan. Remove when golden color.
- Place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb oil.
- Add toppings and serve.
Tips and Tools Needed
- Wok or a non-stick frying pan. You can also use a deep fryer.
- For best results, you will need at least 3 inches of oil. How much oil depends on what size pot you use. You want to make sure the bananas float on top of the oil and don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Large bowl, whisk, tongs, and paper towels.
- Cook only 4 pieces at a time so as to not crowd the pan.
Variations For The Creative Cooks
The place to get wild is with the sauce or ice cream. I saw one recipe where cinnamon was added to the batter but I think the batter should stay pure and the decoration and adornment should go around these little banana fritters! I added cinnamon to regular vanilla ice cream, stirred it in, and then re-froze it to get hard again before serving.
Think about the best flavor combinations. If you love bananas, you'll probably get a kick out of my Banana Sticky Rice Creation for the Maple Syrup Contest.
Syrups and Sauces
Chocolate syrup or chocolate sauce
Peanut butter sauce
Nuts, Candies, Fruit
Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Seeds
Powdered Sugar like a funnel cake
Berries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries
Ice Cream Ideas
A scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream
Ground cinnamon in the ice cream
Ginger Flavored Ice Cream
Chocolate Ice Cream
Rum Raisin Ice Cream
If you have any additional ideas or great combinations, let me know in the comments. Be sure to leave a Five Heart ❤️Review! Thank you for spending time with me today.
Watch the video below to see how easy it is.
Fried Banana Recipe
- 6 smaller sized ripe bananas no brown spots
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder (not baking soda)
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water batter should be thin, to drip off. Add more water if necessary.
- 3 cups vegetable oil more or less depending on size of pan
- ⅓ cup honey OPTIONAL
- 3 teaspoons sesame seeds OPTIONAL
- 2 cups vanilla ice cream OPTIONAL
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon OPTIONAL
- Slice the bananas lengthwise, remove peel and then cut into four pieces.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, corn starch, and salt.
- Whisk-in the water until batter is smooth.
- Heat oil in a non-stick pan or wok to medium-high heat, about 350 degrees.
- Dip banana pieces one by one in batter, shake excess and slowly place into hot oil being careful not to let the banana touch the bottom of the pan. Do not crowd the pan. There should be enough oil for the bananas to float.
- Cook until golden and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.
- Drizzle honey over bananas and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Serve with ice cream.