March 20, 2006

"turon" or crispy banana rolls

With the absence of the “saba” variety of cooking banana, which we’re more familiar with in Manila, plantain bananas from Latin American countries are the best substitute. Thinly sliced cooking bananas were tossed in brown sugar, wrapped in springroll wrappers and fried until crispy. The brown sugar caramelizes in the oil during the frying and sets, adding extra crunch. It is important for the bananas to be very ripe, although not overipe. Unlike those sold commercially, often deep fried and saturated in oil, I try to use as little oil as possible when frying these. Much as would like to avoid it, I guess frying is the only way to get the wrappers crispy. I have yet to try baking them and see what happens if I generously brush them with oil prior to baking. Although I have strong doubts it will work, I guess it’s worth to give it a try. As long as they get crispy, the method is not an issue. A “special turon" would have extra slices of langka or jackfruit along with the bananas. We also make a version with sweetened cooked and mashed sweet potato instead of bananas. These “turon” or crispy banana rolls are popular streetfood snacks in Manila where, in almost every corner grocery or bakery, a seller can be found with a makeshift stand selling these. Very irresistable especially to people on their way home [most likely hungry] never failing to grab their attention. Oh yes, I used to be one of those hungry patrons! Although I’m happy that I'm able to make these here now, I still miss those corner stands, they’ve always been part of our culture and way of life.

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