Fried banana is a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. Tostones, also known as patacones, are plantains sliced and fried, pounded to flatten then fried a second time until crisp and golden. Tajadas are fried plantains sliced vertically and often served alongside a main dish. Banana chips made with plantain are called chifles. Then, there is the Venezuelan yo-yo which consists of two vertical slices of plantain stuffed with cheese in the middle, held together with toothpicks, dipped in egg and fried until golden.
Like Latin American countries and some Caribbean nations, the Philippines was once a Spanish colony. Ergo, the many similarities in our cuisines. In the Philippines, we have fried banana dishes too in the form of turon, banana chips, banana cue and maruya. Turon is fried banana spring rolls, the bananas usually combined with strips of ripe langka (jackfruit). Banana cue is whole bananas fried with brown sugar then threaded with bamboo skewers. Maruya is sliced bananas dipped in batter, deep fried and dredged in sugar. All are popular street foods and snacks; all are made with Saba banana (Cardaba banana) which, like plantain, is primarily a cooking banana but is sweeter.
All of my turon posts are non-traditional recipes. I am not a fan of langka so we’ve cooked turon in so many ways other than with langka. We like our turon with cheese, with bacon and cheese, with chocolate and with mangoes, the latter dipped in toffee and peanut butter sauce. All very eclectic; all very good.
Today, I’m taking a break from the unusual to share something traditional. Yes, maruya. The recipe comes with a little trick to make dipping the sliced bananas in the egg-and-flour batter easier and less messy.
Maruya (Saba banana fritters)
- Start heating the cooking oil un a wok or frying pan.
- Place the sugar in a wide shallow bowl.
- Make the batter. Beat the egg in a bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and milk. Stir until smooth. Ideally, it should have the consistency of a rather thick pancake batter.
- Baking powder? Oh, yes. It will make the batter lighter, fluffier and, in effect, crispier after frying.
- Peel the bananas. Cut each vertically into three to five slices, depending on how large they are, without going all the way through on one end. Carefully spread the slices to make a “fan.” Most cooks slice the bananas all the way through. Since maruya is cooked in clusters of three to five slices of banana, keeping several slices together after dipping in the egg-flour batter can get messy. By cutting and spreading the bananas like a fan, it’s easier to keep them together.
- Dip each banana in the batter making sure that the batter reaches the crevices between the slices. Fry in the hot oil, about two minutes per side, or until golden and crisp.
- Scoop out the cooked bananas, dredge in sugar and serve at once.
For variation, stir the white sugar with half a teaspoonful of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.