There are over 1,000 varieties of bananas on the planet, so it’s a bit ethnocentric(?) to blithely believe that saba, latundan, lakatan, seniorita, etc. MUST be the among best varieties globally, period. Or is it? For me, the saba is my all-time favorite banana variety, particularly when fried, or stewed or even boiled. And while I admit I have probably only tasted some 15-20 varieties of bananas in my entire life, saba bananas for cooking and lakatan for eating are my personal favorites… So when I spotted these rather unusual looking bananas at the grocery lately, I purchased them out of curiosity, hoping to find something new and intriguing. Labelled “Paradise” bananas, and marketed by Dole, they are a type of plantain banana, more suited to being cooked than being enjoyed raw.
They certainly looked unique, like sabas on steriods or buffed up from years at the gym…hahaha. Better yet, they look like they had consulted with a dermatologist as they had such flawless skins. Starting to ripen, they were a yellow green and firm to the touch. And finally, at some PHP19 a kilo, they cost PHP5 per piece, not much more than a saba in a grocery. Back at home, I looked them up and couldn’t find much information, so I sought some help from a friend at Dole…
Turns out these are indeed a variety of plantain. And they were grown at the request of export clients in this part of the world. We seem to have gotten some of the first crop in our local groceries. Dole suggests pan-frying, boliing or baking the bananas. A day or so after I purchased them, I opened up two pieces and sliced them two ways and dropped them into hot fat, wanting to see how they would compare to our own sabas. They were starchier and less sweet than I expected, and had a rather spongy texture. Even sprinkled with sugar, these were not a good substitute for my favorite frying banana. HOWEVER, I think since these were starchier than most local varieties, they probably do well when cooked into dishes, or served as the starchy side dish, presumably in lieu of rice or potatoes.
A couple of days later, with the bananas getting rather ripe, I mashed the remaining bananas, mixed in some egg yolk, flour and sugar and fried these up (photo above). Not a good idea. These were really mushy and soft and perhaps I had just waited too long before using them. So the verdict? I haven’t found the right use for them yet. And while I am thrilled that local growers are really starting to broaden their offerings… they need to come up with a really good recipe or two or three to give out to new consumers with products such as these so that there is a better chance that folks will try them and like them… The one recipe that was suggested for this variety involved first pan frying pieces, then mashing them, then frying the mash again and serving it as a starchy sweet side dish or snack. If anyone is familiar with this variety or has any good suggested uses, leave a comment. Thanks.