Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How is Saba Banana Cooked?

Bananas are the world's fourth largest fruit crop, following grapes, citrus and apples. According to Purdue University's Department of Horticulture, 28 million tons of bananas are produced each year, and 27 percent of them come from Southeast Asia. One of the most common banana varieties used in the Philippines is the saba banana, or cardaba banana, which is a shorter, thicker version of the standard bananas found in supermarkets. Like other bananas and plantains, the saba banana can be prepared in several ways.

Fried Saba

Fried saba bananas are a common Filipino treat, and are often used as a side dish or dessert. Garnish a rice dish such as arroz Valenciana, which is made with chorizo, chicken, peas and pork, with a side of fried saba and chicken liver, as described in "Home Chefs of the World." For an appetizer, wrap saba bananas in lumpia or spring roll wrappers and deep-fry them. Add other traditional Filipino ingredients such as jackfruit or sweet potatoes for added complexity.

Sweet Treats

In Filipino cuisine, saba bananas are often used as a dessert. For an exotic twist on traditional crepes or pancakes, fry saba bananas in a crepe, waffle or pancake batter and serve with butter and a sprinkle of sugar or honey. To really showcase sabas, try the traditional method of cooking saba bananas in sugar syrup. Cube the bananas and cook them on the stove top in sugar syrup, then allow them to cool for about an hour. Serve over vanilla ice cream.

Stove Top Delights

Because of their high starch content and heavy texture, saba bananas also make compelling additions to stir fry and other stove top creations. The traditional Filipino recipe ginataang bilo-bilo, or rice dumplings in coconut milk, showcases saba bananas, along with sweet potatoes and jackfruits, in a traditional stir fry that is easy to make and impressive to guests who enjoy exotic cuisine. Serve over glutinous rice, which has a sticky texture and is commonly used in Filipino cooking.


Use any extra ripe saba bananas you might have to make exotic saba jam. Saba bananas are ideal for jams, since they have a high starch content and a naturally sweet taste. As with any canning project, be sure to completely sterilize all jars and lids before canning saba bananas. If you plan to keep the jam for more than one week, process the cans in a hot water bath for about 30 minutes. Serve saba banana jam on pan de sal, or traditional Filipino rolls.

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