This is the eleventh post in the Thailand! travel series of my eats in Bangkok. Other posts include Thip Samai, Best Pad Thai in Bangkok? and Raan Jay Fai, Best Drunken Noodle in Bangkok, Maeklong Railway Market, Floating Markets (Damnoen Saduak), Street Foods of Bangkok, Part I, and Street Foods of Bangkok, Part II, and Fun Fruits in Thailand plus posts about recipes from my cooking class at Somphong Thai Cooking School including Som Tam (Papaya Salad), Thai Panaeng Curry Chicken, and this post.
I did not expect to like this dish at all.
In fact, when I first saw that there was a banana dessert on the menu for the cooking class, I sort of cringed. After all, I've never liked bananas. There's something about the flavor that just sort of rubs me the wrong way. I can't place my finger on it, but it's definitely something I don't eat often.
But because the Thai cooking class I was taking at the Somphong Thai Cooking School included other pretty amazing dishes, such as Green Papaya Salad and Panaeng curry, I decided to stick with this particular class.
And I stand corrected.
Bananas can taste good. Really, really good.
This dessert is our cooking instructor's favorite dessert, and I can totally see why. It's super easy to make, and the sweet-salty combination of the sweet bananas with the savory coconut cream sauce works together surprisingly well.
I hate to say this, but it was almost mildly addictive.
The bananas used in this dessert are not the normal large bananas we see in North America. Instead, these are mini bananas that are about half the length of the big bananas we are used to seeing in the States.
Here's a woman selling these little bananas on skewers at the floating markets at Damnoen Saduak.
You want to use bananas that are still pretty green (see color in the photo). They need to be firm so they can stand up to the cooking. Remove the peels from all the bananas. You can peel them traditionally by hand, or use a knife to speed up the process.
To prevent bananas from turning brown after peeling, place them immediately in a bowl of water acidified wi lime juice.
We will cook these bananas in a fragrant, pandan-infused syrup. Pandan is a tropical plant commonly used in Southeast Asia in both sweet and savory applications. It has a sweet, fragrant aroma that is very pleasing, making it a popular flavor used in many desserts. If you don't have pandan, you can either add a few drops of pandan essence (a little goes a long way!) or even vanilla extract would work fine too.
Combine sugar, salt, pandan leaves, and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
Add bananas, reduce heat, and cook until the bananas turn a darker shade of yellow, maybe 10-15 minutes. Try not to disturb the bananas too much, though you can flip them once in the middle if desired.
Meanwhile, make your savory coconut cream. It's pretty easy - just dissolve coconut cream with salt and a bit of rice flour to thicken it up. If you want, you can add some pandan leaves for extra flavor, but this is optional.
Once the bananas are done, remove them from the pot, straining out the syrup. Optionally squeeze lime on top, and pour the savory coconut cream sauce all over the bananas.
Love that sweet + salty combo. Seriously addictive.
Bananas in Golden Syrup
8 small golden bananas
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
Pandan leaves (optional)
Vanilla flavoring (optional)
Peel bananas and immediately put them in a bowl of water to prevent further browning. In a pot, bring sugar, water, salt, and pandan leaves to a boil. Reduce heat and add bananas, cooking at low heat until the bananas turn a darker shade of yellow. Add lime juice and then remove bananas. Top with coconut cream topping (see below for recipe).
Coconut Cream Topping
1 cup coconut cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice flour*
Add the rice flour to the coconut cream (room temperature). Heat over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and sauce-like. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
*I believe the purpose of the flour is mostly for texture, so if you can't find rice flour, other substitutes may work, such as all purpose flour.
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