15 May2006

Grilled Saba Bananas

by Marketman


I keep discovering time and time again, that sometimes, the simplest things to make are the purest and most delicious to eat. On my way to the barbecue a few weeks ago, I spied several saba bananas (my favorite type in the whole world) that were just about ripe so I looked at the grill, looked at the bananas and thought, hmmm… I wonder if… I picked up one of the bananas and put them on the hot grill and roasted it for several minutes until it started to gurgle and steam. I took it off the grill, waited for it to cool a little and opened it up. The aroma of steamed banana was amongst the most intense I have ever smelled. And the taste was pure unadulterated saba. It tasted better than boiled bananas which can feel and taste watery. It was better than steamed as it really cooked in its own peel without water playing a role. And the texture and flavor were excellent. I like sabas best when fried but this grilled saba was an unexpected and surprising discovery.

Turns out I hadn’t discovered anything new as folks gban2do in fact grill whole saba in towns across the archipelago. But I didn’t know that so it seemed really cool to me. Remember this if you are doing a bonfire on the beach or camp cooking in the hinterlands. No fuss, no muss and it tastes really good. For kids, cook then peel this banana and slice it in half then slip several squares of Hershey’s chocolate in it and watch it melt and disappear down their hatches in no time at all…instant chocolate fondue…yum!



  1. millet says:

    how we do it in these parts is, we peel the saba or cardava bananas first, then thread them on skewers, and grill away till they’re done (light brown, not too charred). the surface takes on a soft crust, while it’s tender and juicy inside. slather all over with margarine (not butter!), sprinkle on some sugar….saraaap!

    May 15, 2006 | 7:09 am


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  3. MJM says:

    Haaay, how I miss the saba! It’s available here in Malaysia, but not as easy to find like back home in the Philippines. Sometimes, I have to beg the vendor selling banana fritters to part with one “piling” so I can take it home to cook it the way I like it. The ones they sell fried with batter are tasteless, since they don’t put any sugar like the way we do in the Philippines.

    I don’t know if I’m the only one who can eat it in it’s uncooked state. Of course, only when it’s at its ripest!


    May 15, 2006 | 10:17 am

  4. chrissy says:

    hi millet, i believe that’s called ginanggang. We used to sneak some over the school fence for an afternoon snack… Yum!

    May 15, 2006 | 11:19 am

  5. ajb says:

    That’s funny, I also discovered roasting bananas over the fire. We went camping and I had a ripe platain so I wrapped it in some wet newspaper (foil might be better) and stuck it on the coals until the newspaper was almost gone. Really good, even without the brown sugar!

    May 15, 2006 | 12:33 pm

  6. nikka says:


    i love uncooked saba too! but as a kid, my yaya used to tell me i’d get sick if i ate it that way. i still ate them raw though!

    May 15, 2006 | 1:25 pm

  7. Ria says:

    A few years ago, we were stuck in a bus route between Butuan and Surigao del Sur. While waiting for our turn to cross a bridge (under construction), I smelled something burning and thought something was wrong with the engine.

    Turns out someone was grilling saba rolled in brown sugar along the road. (Something like Millet described, but with sugar.) We promptly bought (after sweating out the language barrier). I’ve never tasted it that way, it was good. But I’m still a turon freak, hehe.

    May 15, 2006 | 2:37 pm

  8. Lani says:

    I will definitely try this one, MM. Yummy!

    May 15, 2006 | 2:42 pm

  9. mita says:

    grilling the whole saba with the peel and all? that’s new to me…actually grilling a banana is new to me. but then again, why not?

    May 15, 2006 | 2:54 pm

  10. edna says:

    i love grilled saba! my mom used to grill it without the peel. when it’s almost done, she’d squash it a bit ’til it cracked on the sides. i love it a litte crunchy.

    May 15, 2006 | 6:44 pm

  11. Bay_leaf says:

    i’d love one right now. yum.

    May 15, 2006 | 7:51 pm

  12. Lou says:

    Has anyone tried cooking it in a microwave? I cook only fresh unhusked corn and it was veeery tasty… Cooking time is 5-7 minutes per two corns. This is the only thing I use my microwave for, aside from reheating or thawing and melting stuff. Saba beats the plantain in taste.

    May 15, 2006 | 11:52 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    Lou, I have never tried this in a microwave, though I would poke a few holes in the skin rather than risk a potential banana “bomb”! I do think that the coals add something to the flavor though…

    May 16, 2006 | 12:16 am

  14. Jacob's Mom says:

    My hubby’s from West Africa and thereabouts they grill nearly-ripe plantain and call it “boli.” When too lazy to grill or fry it, we cook it in the microwave. Like Marketman says, you need to at least pierce the skin to let the steam escape. We cut off both ends, and then slit the skin — the whole length of the plaintain. Makes it easier to peel the skin off when it’s done. About 4-5 minutes for one plantain.

    May 16, 2006 | 1:35 am

  15. joy says:

    our maids from mindanao grill UNRIPE saba bananas and when they’re done eat them with bagoong…

    i prefer them ripe and sweet. =)

    May 16, 2006 | 8:14 am

  16. iska says:

    the 1st time i tried grilled saba was about a couple of years ago.. in a brazilian restaurant here in beijing… nice!

    May 16, 2006 | 3:35 pm

  17. lorenzo says:

    We don’t have Saba bananas in England – you lucky bastods. But i must try this with regular Cavendish types from the Caribbean countries — you have to work with what you’ve got.

    May 17, 2006 | 5:36 am

  18. purplegirl says:

    yup, saw them grilled saba bananas all over bangkok. but without the peel. boy, those were heavenly.

    May 17, 2006 | 8:07 am

  19. Christine says:

    YUM!! I love saba, and all kinds of bananas and Ive never tried it grilled. I will have to buy some for our next bbq swimming party. Thanks for the idea! :)

    May 17, 2006 | 11:01 am

  20. Kai says:

    My lolo had grilled saba without the peel for breakfast every day. I was young then, and thought it was too dry. Maybe I should try it with margarine and sugar as suggested, but I would love to try it grilled with the peel – seems to solve the dryness part for me.

    May 17, 2006 | 6:53 pm

  21. izang says:

    we used to throw unhusked corn in the bonfire to grill them.the taste is so good and diffrent from the ones you can buy usually since i think they cook in their own juices ….haven’t tried saba though…..might do so this weekend….curious…curious…..

    Jun 5, 2006 | 1:05 pm

  22. Kate says:

    Grilled (naked) saba is standard Batangas-Mindoro merienda fare available both on the street and in homes. Manila girl, born and raised, that I am, it was a revelation to me, too. I like manibalang (half-ripe) best for grilling. Tastes like toasted marshmallows, only better. Mas nakakabusog. They squish it a bit before eating it, too.
    My brother-in-law, a prominent Makati physician, also makes a mean “sinulbot”—not too ripe, peeled saba expertly cooked/coated in a brown sugar glaze with a hint of coconut cream. Heavenly!

    Jun 6, 2006 | 8:18 am

  23. Jona says:

    My lolo had grilled saba without the peel for breakfast every day. I was young then, and thought it was too dry. Maybe I should try it with margarine and sugar as suggested, but I would love to try it grilled with the peel – seems to solve the dryness part and boiled banana.

    Sep 17, 2007 | 4:48 pm

  24. k. ramos says:

    We also grill saba like millet’s, and we call them ginanggang. Way better than maruya or fried saba! :D

    Aug 28, 2008 | 8:16 pm

  25. solraya says:

    Have you tried eating the ripe saba bananas raw? Sweet, tender and you can taste the freshness too :)

    Jan 30, 2009 | 4:58 pm


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