Saba or Cooking Bananas

These bananas are an all-time personal favorite. My kind of comfort food. I eat saba bananas at least once a week. saba green Boiled, fried, stewed, or braised in sugar, saba bananas are delicious, nutritious and economical. Available throughout the year, I think they are at their finest a few months after the monsoon rains have begun and worst after a long hot summer.

When buying, pick solid bananas still somewhat green but just on the verge of turning yellow. Our cook, who hails from Bohol, has a great word for the skinny inferior sabas – “pidjasut” which loosely translated is something like “the fruit doesn’t fill the peel…” Think airhead. saba ripe The opposite quality to being “pidjasut” is being “bus-ok” — the banana equivalent of looking and feeling “buff.” The yellower the fruit, the limper the cooked product. I often buy saba bananas in whole bunches of 120-140 pieces of fruit at Batangas roadside stands (the real roadside stands, not the outrageous ones in Tagaytay which get much of their fruit from Divisoria.) At just 50-80 centavos a fruit on average, these bananas are a bargain. Prices in Manila range from P1.50 at the market to P2.50 at fancy groceries. Even at these prices, I still think they are great value.

A Southeast Asian native, bananas were probably in the gardens of nearly every hut in the Archipelago for eons. When Magellan’s ships landed in Cebu in 1521 and he and his crew stepped sea-sick and scurvy-ridden onto shore, they were almost certainly served some bananas… Bananas are, believe it or not, a humongous herb, and not a tree. They are extremely useful with the flowers, heart, fruit, leaves and trunk being all edible or otherwise useful.

Banana Turon. There are so many ways to cook bananas but turon is one of my favorites. Buy some good “lumpia” or spring roll wrapper or make it from scratch. turon Slice saba bananas lengthwise and roll a slice in the wrapper. Tuck in ends and seal with a bit of water to moisten the wrapper. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve immediately with some sugar on the side. If you are feeling exhuberant, serve with dulce de leche (an excellent recipe for a real one appeared in Saveur magazine and is available on their website). Variations to turon are infinite. I once spent an afternoon trying all ways of cutting the fruit, frying it with brown or white sugar inside the wrapper, adding butter, chocolate, etc. But I still like the plain original version. Many people like to put a sliver of ripe langka or jackfruit with the banana before wrapping, but please, do as you please. Banana turon a la mode (with Haagen Daz Vanilla Ice Cream) is also heaven. Yum!


23 Responses

  1. My only son who is 11 years old can eat 10 turons in one sitting. Whether we buy them along the road or cook them
    in the house, he loves it.

  2. I brought some turon to work (LA) today and boy did my coworkers love them. We’re a culturally diverse lab, from the Philippines, China, India, Iran, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Croatia/Austria, Chicago and ofcourse the locals, except the banana used here is plantains. Yummy!

  3. I like turon but my fave is banana q. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been home to the Philippines, but I crave it everytime I see a banana …

  4. I remember, during my high school days (ages ago), having saba in a variation of “banana dulce” as an after class merienda at a nearby carinderia. Simply boil the ripe saba and add brown sugar. When cooked and cooled down, add shaved/crushed ice and milk on cooked banana with light syrup as sweetener. a refreshing alternative for halo halo. . YUM YUM. . .

  5. Down south, they broil/grill the saba bananas(peeled)over hot coconut charcoal. Once they’ve softened a bit, they’re off the fire. Spread some Star margarine and springkled with with sugar. All for a 1 peso treat!

  6. my sister really loves banana. good thing my grandparents plant bananas so we sometimes get them for free. x)
    i like saging na saba when you just fry it and eat it with sugar. seriously. :) a nice thing to eat every sunday afternoons. ^^

  7. We have a capacity of 30,000kg/month or more depending on the demand. Are you interested to buy? My area is Misamis Oriental. If you can give me a contact number or email address the better. We are looking for highest bidder. The highest bidder so far is can give us 5peso/kilo. Are you willing? This is the correct E-mail Address

  8. as i haven’t been home for some good years now, the place we found sells saging saba frozen to death. of course i still bought it and boy was that heaven. just eat it as it is (unfrozen)! Lovely!

  9. i love turon with langka inside. mom says she used to have them with langka and peanut inside. somehow we havn’t tried it yet. i’ll keep it in mind next time we harvest saba.

  10. where i can buy a SABA BANANA in LOS ANGELES.i try to look in philippine market ,but they dont have.i really miss that kind of banana,i want to make a TURON for thanksgiving this coming thursday.

  11. Hello MM, in your binignit you’ve mentioned saging sab-a as one of the ingredients which is cool ‘coz it is naturally sweeter than the other cooking banana … the cardaba. But when i click the link… the photo shown was cardaba. The difference between the two is that Cardaba is abundant, the tree is bigger, its fruit size is bigger than sab-a, its just sweet when ripe, and cheaper. Sab-a is not abundant as its less productive… not many fruit fingers in its “bulig”. It’s much sweeter than cardaba when ripe but expensive. The same thing with the other two non-cooking bananas… the “Latundan/Katundan and Lakatan.The latundan when ripe has yellow peel color, just sweet and cheap, while lakatan has a little bit of orange in color, classy sweet and expensive… in fact, hotels and restaurants prefers the lakatan variety.

  12. bisayaboy, thanks for that comment, I had never known to differentiate between saba and cardaba, treating them all I guess as cooking as opposed to freshly consumed bananas… will have to explore that further…



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