03 Aug2009


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.



  1. Ging says:

    Drizzle with syrup?

    Btw, one of my friends whose family has lakatan plantation says bananas with higher sugar content have more brown speckles on the skin. So I guess the uglier they look, the better they taste. And the prettier they are, more blah in taste.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 7:52 am


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  3. betty q. says:

    MM: In the Carribbean, unripe plantains are turned into TOSTONES. Those are cut in circles, then pounded thin with a mallet and then fried twice to crisp them up. Then the crisp fried tostones can be used to make appys…like maybe smoked chicken with roasted peppers and caramelized onions…stuff them inside 2 tostones and tie in a bundle. Since they are quite really bite size, you can plop the whole appy in one bite! But what is really good is make a Pinoy BBQ chicken and then slice them thin and use that as the filling…

    Hey, Ted, …that is a good use for the Aristocrat style Pnoy BBq chicken! The unripe plantain is quite bland so the filling which is Pinoy Aristocrat style BBq chicken will be a hit! I shall make it for the boys’ BBQ party on Labour day!!!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 8:09 am

  4. sanojmd says:

    could it be used for banana bread, the totally ripe variety of this? nice looking but not delish to eat..i bought some banana here yesterday at asian store. planning to make some turon out of it.. yumm!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 8:20 am

  5. betty q. says:

    MM: I could be wrong but they look somewhat close to the ones I saw at the Vietnamese store. The lady said that is the common banana in Vietnam. I shall ask my Vietnamese friend what they do with those!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 8:54 am

  6. steph says:

    hey i think that’s the same bananas being sold as cooking bananas in wellington. i have yet to try them though. i have tried green bananas to make banana-cue but they turn to mush when i fry them. damn. i wish i had access to filipino sabas!!!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 9:07 am

  7. betty q. says:

    Vietnamese makes them into some sort of a bread pudding (with the ripe ones) made with coconut milk, eggs, condensed milk, bread cubes, etc. and calls them banh chuoi? or something like that. I am going to try it…she didn’t give me exact propotions…just said…a little bit of this and a littlle bit of that.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 9:12 am

  8. sanojmd says:

    betty q: are u still on a holiday?

    Aug 3, 2009 | 10:16 am

  9. Connie C says:

    Hi MM. the “paradise bananas” pictured above are called Hawaiian bananas here in Maryland, also a relatively new produce that I have been seeing more and more in grocery stores. I tried them the usual way I cook my plantains but they are not as good, yes, more starchy than the other varieties but get a little sweeter as they ripen. Good plantains here are hard to come by anyway because of storage and somehow, the maturity at harvest varies. I notice that most other countries prepare cooking bananas or plantain before they are fully ripe, as tostones or simply fried.

    In Hawaii it is called Hua Moa, a subset of the Popoulu group (for the plant growers). The only recipes I can find for the Hua Moa are here:



    Aug 3, 2009 | 10:46 am

  10. bagito says:

    Interesting. I’ve never seen this particular type of banana before. I agree w/ what Ging said above–“the uglier, the better” kasi the ones we can find in the groceries here look so good on the outside but matabang when you bite on it. And yet, when you buy the Manzano bananas (latundan?), as long as you wait for it to ripen and the skin is somewhat spotted na, then it’s perfect.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 11:33 am

  11. natie says:

    betty q, i LOVE tostones!! but i do miss saba!! love nilupak (linupak, in ilonggo)..

    Aug 3, 2009 | 11:52 am

  12. thelma says:

    i’ve never seen this type before. i like bananas very much…boiled, fried, bake…

    bettyq, i do make tostones when i cook some puerto rican dishes.
    they’re good accompaniment for these kind of dishes.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 12:59 pm

  13. myra_p says:

    Ging, my own anecdotal experiences confirm what your friend said about “ugly” lakatan — the specklier (is that a word?), the sweeter. When I get a good piling, the kids demolish in two days.

    Love tostones and so happy to have a regular supply of plantains at S&R.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 2:06 pm

  14. alicia says:

    picked up these bananas too- but was not quite sure what to do with them. A few months back there was a recipe in Food & Wine for stuffed Tostones with goat cheese- it may have had some kind of mashed squash or sweet potato too… might be a good time to dig out that recipe!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 2:24 pm

  15. kroozer says:

    betty q, how is tostones different from mofongo?

    Aug 3, 2009 | 2:44 pm

  16. lojet says:

    Tostones is twice fried banana slices while mofongo is fried pieces of plantains then smashed in a wooden mortar much like nilupak but seasoned with salt, garlic and pepper and pork cracklings or bacon are ponded with it. Tostones just looks like disks when it’s done. I like them when the bananas has already a hint of sweetnes in them. Some takeout chinese restos in NY has the tostones as part of side dish menu as well as french fries.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 3:16 pm

  17. Gener says:

    PHILIPPINE BANANAS are sold worldwide and they are better than any bananas anywhere. taste cannot be compared and its a firm looking banana too.I went as far and isolated as mongolia and i found there! When i introduce myself as filipino to the gas crew members,,they said philippine banana? I answered no! not banana, filipino race, he went inside the shop and come out with some bananas laveled “product of the philippines” Oh! thats how he knows me, they dont know much about philippines there! they identified me from banana label…

    Aug 3, 2009 | 3:35 pm

  18. risa says:

    I wax poetic about an older banana variety that has peachy/light oprange flesh. It was called lakatan then, but the lakatan now is white yellow. This used to be the banana in banana splits in the Magnolia plant in Aurora.

    Recently, through MM’s blog, I identified morados being sold at the foot of a hanging bridge in Bohol. Good too! Tasted like latundan.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 4:04 pm

  19. diday says:

    One of the many delicious Thai desserts sold on Sunday market is the Thai fried bananas. I tried the recipe once and we decided to wait for Sundays and just buy – more economical to buy than to cook. My justification on a failed experiment. The ingredients consisted of plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar, 1 egg, water, shredded coconut or sesame and ripe bananas. I followed every step – the batter did not look like hers …. but well, maybe the problem was the oil and not me ha!ha!ha!

    Aug 3, 2009 | 6:39 pm

  20. dishesandplaces says:

    there is a banana variety i tried in san pablo, laguna which was really good! it was a cross between a latondan and saba. i forget it’s name, but it’s something i don’t come across often in markets.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 6:44 pm

  21. Lava Bien says:

    It looks like “tostones” of the Caribeños when cooked, they fry them babies then mash it then fry it again but it looks different before cooked.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 8:26 pm

  22. k. ramos says:

    What about ginanggang, MM? Maybe grilling them that way will bring out some flavor.

    Aug 3, 2009 | 9:32 pm

  23. Angela says:

    We’ve tried this banana, too, and were also not impressed.

    Aug 4, 2009 | 12:57 am

  24. Maria Clara says:

    If the bananas you featured here are indeed plantains then I would say they are the midget version of plaintains. Plaintain bananas are gigantic. Plaintains are widely used in Cuban, Brazilian and like BettyQ said Carribean cuisines. They cook them when they are still on the eve of reaching their ripening stage. They served them as a side dish with their rice and beans to make a trio that goes well with either pork, beef, chicken or fish/shrimp dish. No big ceremonial prepped involved. The bananas are peeled, cut in bias and fried and I believe they add a small amount of sugar for the caramelized finish. You grab it right by the horn, the saba bananas are excellent. They are now available frozen in my Asian grocers. They make excellent bukayo with a big splash of Vermouth and muscovado sugar. Whatever laboratory engineered bananas they come up with our advanced technology, saba is still my number one choice.

    Aug 4, 2009 | 3:18 am

  25. ingrid says:

    like lojet said, i think you can use those bananas for nilupak then sprinkle a little muscovado sugar to sweeten them up. nice find MM.

    Aug 4, 2009 | 9:48 am

  26. Jenny says:

    hi MM! saw these at S&R also. we tried boiling them but they tasted awful! like tasteless camote – even sugar couldn’t save them. according to the packaging, boiling was one of the ways you could cook them.. hmmm… maybe we should’ve waited for them to ripen before boiling! :D

    Aug 4, 2009 | 3:54 pm

  27. risa says:


    I think I tasted those bananas. We bought a “buwig” along the Tagaytay Road to Nasugbu. They called it GLORIAS. Can anyone verify?

    Aug 4, 2009 | 8:10 pm

  28. Marketman says:

    k. ramos… I didn’t try grilling them, but I would be worried about their consistency, given the results from frying them up… but you never know, it could possibly work…

    Aug 5, 2009 | 8:12 am

  29. Mike says:

    Philippine lacatan is considered by banana connoisseurs to be the best tasting bananas according to Dan Koeppel in his book “Banana, the Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World.”

    Aug 6, 2009 | 9:03 am

  30. Homebuddy says:

    When making nilupak,the bananas should be green, add shredded “alanganin” coconut and sugar (I use white) whirl it in a processor, your done!
    How about making the green ones into banana chips?

    Aug 6, 2009 | 1:18 pm

  31. odgarcia says:

    Potassium-rich bananas are good for balancing the salty (sodium-rich) diet, but even better if sodium is reduced. http://neonate28.blogspot.com/2008/11/bananas-food-or-medicine.html

    Aug 7, 2009 | 10:27 am

  32. zandy says:

    banana give a vitamines to have clear vision of our eyes.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:43 pm

  33. John M. Soliai says:

    like to buy some banana trees to plant, the banana tree that grows the big fat banana . like to buy four from you please tell me how much are they, thank you.

    Aug 29, 2009 | 4:48 am

  34. Johnny come lately says:

    I have to agree with Connie C. But I think it is more of Popoulu because Hua Moa is much bigger.

    By the way, where did you buy that banana?

    Aug 31, 2009 | 1:09 am

  35. Marketman says:

    Johnny, these particular bananas were from S&R, but I have seen them at other large groceries. It seems they were specifically grown for export to New Zealand. John, I don’t sell anything.

    Aug 31, 2009 | 6:26 am

  36. Johnny come lately says:

    he, he, he… actually, I thought you bought it from Manila. But honestly I am a bit lost, I do not know where is S&R. What S&R stands for and where is it?

    Aug 31, 2009 | 9:57 am

  37. marvin the martian says:

    I am actually eating it right now,(i boiled it, and ate 2 pcs), and it is like eating kamote…it’s so filling already
    …one of the down side is, it easily crumbles when boiled…

    one recipe i already tried is making into “mash bananas” (mash potatoes) because it’s so starchy and have very little sweetness… it goes along well with a good spicy sauce

    although i haven’t tried putting it yet in nilaga, maybe it can replace potatoes becoz of the high per-kilo price of potatoes in the market…
    this one i bought 9 pieces for 30pesos only in the supermarket… and i think it has more nutrition than regular potatoes…

    i will let you know what other recipes i can make out of it…

    Aug 31, 2009 | 8:08 pm

  38. Karl Forsite says:

    As a vegetable, we also fry them green. We cut like either as potato chips (british) or as potato chips (american) and fry the chips. They are crispy and delicious. Tostones are also called Patacones in some countries.

    As a fruit, the ripe ones are baked with cinnamon and then hot milk or cream or sour cream is pour on top, it is a nice dessert.

    Plantain tornovers made with mashed baked ripe plantains are stuffed with mashed red or blank beans as well.

    What is kamote, sweet potato?

    “Costarrican” in New Zealand

    Oct 7, 2009 | 5:10 am

  39. Juan Martin says:

    In response to Karl Forsite’s question, yes, kamote is the tagalog word for sweet potato.

    It seems that the location of the commentator is automatically logged in this website. Yes I am an OFW in saudi Arabia.

    Oct 18, 2009 | 10:04 pm

  40. el_jefe says:

    MM i collect indigenous varieties of philippine bananas and plantains… i have a small ”gene bank” of philippines banans in batangas….hope youd also feature philippine bananas here…like tindok..saksik..guyuran..inarnibal etc…

    Nov 1, 2009 | 12:09 pm

  41. Cho says:

    Hi MM,

    Have you seen this banana lately in supermarkets aside from S&R? Would like to know where I could buy them for a tostones recipe I learned when I was abroad…

    Nov 9, 2010 | 6:21 pm

  42. Marketman says:

    Cho, they aren’t that common. But I just saw some at S&R Cebu. I guess anyone that carries Dole products might have them. So try the largest groceries in Makati, Mandaluyong and the like, I suppose.

    Nov 9, 2010 | 6:30 pm

  43. ron says:

    i love bananas

    Nov 10, 2010 | 8:07 am

  44. Randy Chambers says:

    Anyone out there collect those little PLU stickers or labels placed on bananas? If so, send me an email at banasticker@aim.com and let’s do some trading. Always interested in acquiring new stickers from anywhere for my collection. Will even buy them. Send me an email Thanks. Randy

    Nov 21, 2010 | 12:32 am


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