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Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters
In Southeast Asia, palm sugar, also known as coconut sugar, is a popular sweetener. It is made by boiling down the sap of a coconut palm, and is sold in a semisoft state in cans or in hard disks or cylinders. The sugar, ranging from a honey color to mahogany brown, has a rich caramel flavor. Brown sugar may be substituted, although the flavor will not be as complex or intense. If the palm sugar is too hard to spoon or cut with a knife, finely chop before measuring or use a handheld grater to shave off the desired amount.

Ingredients:

For the batter:

  • 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup rice flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄8 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk

For the filling:

  • 3 Tbs. unsalted peanuts, toasted and minced
  • 2 Tbs. unsweetened flaked dried coconut
  • 2 1⁄2 tsp. grated palm sugar or
     brown sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 4 large, ripe bananas or 8 finger bananas
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • Canola or peanut oil for deep-frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:

To make the batter, in a bowl, sift together the all-purpose and rice flours, baking powder and salt. Stir in the granulated sugar. Whisk in the coconut milk until the batter just comes together. Do not overstir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a food processor, combine the peanuts, coconut, palm sugar and salt and pulse until finely minced. Add the butter and pulse several times until the mixture has the consistency of cooked oatmeal. If using large bananas, peel them and halve crosswise on the diagonal. If using small bananas, peel and leave whole. Place the bananas in a bowl and toss with the lime juice. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slit 3 inches long in each banana piece, forming a pocket. Using a butter knife, slip about 1 tsp. of the filling into each pocket. Take care not to overstuff the bananas.

Preheat an oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels.

In a wok or deep, heavy saucepan, pour in canola oil to a depth of 4 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. When the oil is hot, dip 4 or 5 banana pieces into the batter, shake off the excess batter and carefully slide the pieces into the oil. Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the bananas to the prepared baking sheet to drain and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining bananas, allowing the oil to reheat to 375°F before adding the next batch.

Divide the hot and crisp bananas among warmed individual plates. Using a fine-mesh sieve or a sifter, dust the bananas with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Asian, by Farina Wong Kingsley (Simon & Schuster, 2003).