Today is my birthday and since my age today is statistically over half of my expected normal lifespan barring errant bus drivers, pilots who faint from lack of oxygen or some strange form of cancer caused by excessive indulgence in La Maison du Chocolat large chocolate macaroons, I have decided to eat whatever the heck I want to eat. Heehee. Today I think it’s going to be some deep fried battered saba bananas (maruya) served with Haagen Daz Vanilla ice cream and palm sugar sauce. One candle only if we must have some semblance of tradition.Yum. Street food converted to a high brow home dessert. First take a perfectly ripe (I like mine shy of ripe) saba banana and slice it thinly but not all the way through. Make at least 4-5 cuts and fan the banana out. Dip in a mixture batter of flour, water and egg and deep fry until a crisp golden brown and the banana is cooked through. Drain on paper towels to remove any excess fat. You can eat these plain or sprinkle with some powdered sugar for some sweetness. They are terrific like this.
But if you want to go a little over the top, serve them on a plate with a generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream and drizzle some palm sugar sauce on top of it all. To make the palm sugar sauce, just dissolve some palm sugar and water over low heat until the right consistency. Cool slightly and drizzle on the dessert. In a pinch, brown sugar dissolved in water would also work but there is a unique flavor to the palm sugar that gives it a slightly different touch. This sauce is also what is served with sagu in many southeast asian versions of the dessert.
What the heck is palm sugar you ask? Panocha in local markets (a blob pictured here). Also known as gula melaka in Malay desserts or gula Jawa in Indonesian desserts (gula being Malay for sugar and Malacca and Java being large production areas). Palm sugar is obtained from the sap of palm trees. To get it, apparently you have to â€œabuseâ€ a palm tree by beating its young inflorescence (growth at the top of the tree – actually, the male part of the flower) and when you have abused it enough it starts to dribble the sweet sap that eventually cakes into palm sugar. The tree can keep flowing for 2-3 months! Yikes, shouldnâ€™t there be an ASPCA (animal rights group) equivalent for helpless plants??? At any rate, palm sugar tastes terrific and works well with the banana and ice cream.