Sinapot / Baduya / Battered and Fried Bananas


Fried bananas, naked or battered, are some of my all-time favorite snacks or desserts. There is something about saba or cooking bananas that is just so comforting. So when one of our local guides in Legazpi asked if I wanted to check out a local fried banana vendor just minutes before our flight back to Manila, I said “YES!, absolutely.” Fried bananas are cooked throughout the Philippine archipelago, but some regions have their own techniques, cuts, recipes and “secrets” that give their version that local panache. These baduya or sinapot were definitely a worthwhile stop…


Based out of a small makeshift stall in what looked like an upscalish residential subdivision on one side of the runway, near the International School, the stand was open for business late that morning, around say 11a.m., but would continue to sell fried bananas and kamote until dusk or whenever their daily supplies ran out. We happened to get there just as they were frying up their first batch of sinapot or baduya. The latter is a variation of maruya, a smiliar snack in Cebu and other parts of the Visayas. But what made these sinapot unusual for me was the rice flour batter and even more clever to me, that they were cooked on top of a sturdy cacao leaf, to help the bananas cook in the desired shape. I have NEVER seen a cacao leaf used in this manner before and I was definitely intrigued.


To make the sinapot, one has to start with a thickish batter, which they made from rice flour, water, a little salt and sugar. Saba bananas were peeled and cut in half, lengthwise, then dipped in the batter and four pieces of banana were arranged on top of a cacao leaf. The slices of banana were touching each other but not on top of each other. Unlike their Visayan relatives, the maruya, these were not a single banana sliced into 4 segments and “fanned out” before being dipped in batter and fried, see a version here.


The bananas and cacao leaf are then gently slipped into the oil (hot, but not too hot) and are left to cook enough so that the cacao leaf is no longer a necessary crutch or mold. The leaf is removed and it can be re-used. The fire under this kawali was a charcoal/wood based fire, and I have to say, it maintained a nice temperature throughout the frying process. The kawali and fire appear to be hidden by a wall of wood or lumber in the photo of the stall up above and that wad due to the stormy weather that day…


When the cacao leaves are removed, they sometimes leave an imprint on the backside of the sinapot, and one can make out the veins of the leaf on the surface of the batter of the fried bananas… irrelevant to most, but I thought it was pretty cool…


When it is clear that the sinapot can hold its shape, they can be turned over and fried until a nice golden brown color. They are then drained for a minute or so in a colander, then wrapped up in sections of banana leaf and ready to eat or wrapped up for take away…


And the taste? Terrific. A nice crisp batter that was a little sweet but not too sweet at all. And the bananas were perfectly fried, a little less than fully ripe, exactly the way i like them for frying, and they had this nice flat shape to them as well. At PHP7 a serving, these were an incredible deal. And I think I can attempt to replicate this at home, but using banana leaves instead. Banana leaves aren’t as sturdy, so I don’t think they will be re-usable…


28 Responses

  1. This so cool AND clever!!! Ang galing! I wonder if this is unique to the tindera or other vendors have the same technique.

  2. First and foremost our saba bananas are the best! I have eaten tons of banana maruya in my life but never eaten or tasted the one you have here formed in a cacao leaf and fried which is new to me. This is an ingenious trait of our folks out there for putting forth this ordinary merienda fare to higher ground. The leaf imparts another layer of flavor which is all natural and contained within the leaf itself nothing extrinsic. I would imagine the leave gives off the aromatic fragrance hint of chocolate and their choice of fuel charcoal which is from mother nature. Combined the two together delivers the knock out banana baduya punch. I would imagine dried brownish banana leaves will do the work as the dried banana leaves contain some aromatic fragrance that the green one lacks. I remember vividly the coconut bukayo in the Pangasinan area – the ones wrapped in brown banana leaves taste much better than the green counterpart way better than the cellophane wrapped. My cacao exposure is limited to wet market and grocery shelves to cacao beans and website and books to cacao trees so I do not really know the feel and fragrance of the leaves.

  3. My mom was born and bred in Oas, Albay, and the few times we came with her to the hometown Sinapot was the daily merienda. I used to wonder what gave Sinapot that flavor (distinct from the Manila version of Maruya) as the Sinapot were served sans the cacao leaves. Now I know, thanks to you. :) [Yep, I never asked.]

    If you ever had the chance to be in Oas, try the local version of the Sinapot, along with Kuskus. Kuskus is halo-halo in looks but also has a distinct taste I can’t quite put a finger on. Baka cacao leaves na naman? I wonder. :)

  4. This is the merienda I dream of the most. Baduya evokes so many wonderful childhood memories of my Naga family heritage. Last year, on a “bus trip” vacation around Bikol, we stopped on the roadside (I believe it was in Oas!) to buy baduya and make my American children taste what is was all about. Now they like it, so I buy the “puede na” version from the local Filipino restaurant regularly. By the way, Romy and Amy Dorotan’s cookbook has a neat section on using leaves to form the baduya while frying, and using leaves for “ukoy” as well.

  5. Sweet memories are coming back again because of this post. We ilonggos call it “kumbo”. It’s an everyday snack I used to buy during elementary days,that and of course the fact that it’s the only snack I can afford from my 1 peso baon at that time.Pair it with an ice candy and voila you’ll get a perfect combination,hot kumbo and cold ice candy!

  6. ang pag kakataon nga naman,i just finished frying bananas.take note,BANANAS.not plantain.we have saba bananas in our taste just like the ones we have in the the way ew live in florida kaya kahit papaano we can grow some of our tropical fruits even phil,mangoes na medyo maraming bunga ngayon.

  7. Beth,

    Parehas gid kita sang ginaka-on nung elementary. I’m from Bago City, Negros Occidental. I miss “kumbo” sprinkled with white sugar.

  8. While I was overseas, I always looked forward to the freid banana snacks, especially the maruya. I could get fried bananas anytime but there were only two or three places where I could get the maruya that I liked. Yep, they were sprinkled with sugar too. That was a factor in deciding where we were going to retire.

  9. If you ever get to Zamboanga, try the small caramelized fried bananas they sell streetside. They’re my favorite snack when I am down south.

  10. cool! sarrrap with a little brown sugar and some butter…here in the US, when i fry bananas(sadly not saba…just good old plantains)i sometimes sprinkle with cinnamon, det you are so lucckky!!!

  11. cool! sarrrap with a little brown sugar and some butter…here in the US, when i fry bananas(sadly not saba…just good old plantains)i sometimes sprinkle with cinnamon

  12. that’s called KUMBO in Ilonggo. i grew up having that fried banana sprinkled with sugar as our afternoon snack or merienda.

  13. Det,
    I bet you live near Homestead, Florida, the only place I’ve ever found saba bananas in the US markets. Nexrt time we are passing through Honmestead would you sell me some?

  14. Hey, Mila, I grew up eating those yummy “saging frito” found along the streets of Sta. Maria. Now that I live in Brunei, I buy fried battered bananas that has turmeric powder added. Nice ones too!

  15. Saging na saba is the best saging for frying, banana cue, maruya, pang guinatan and more. Thank God we are blessed with lots of saba in the Philippines. Luckily they are available in most places in California.

  16. Jamine and Mila, my housemate is from Zamboanga and she taught me how to cook these bananas. She calls it Rebosao [not sure if corect spelling but sounds like it]It’s yummy, beats banana Q

  17. my best friend’s mom is from Legazpi. When I come to visit she always has the fried bananas (plantains only in Dallas) ready for our merienda. I notice that the crisp coating doesn’t get soggy as the hours wear on-it is because of the rice flour batter. The last time we had it I made a coconut/caramel/rhum sauce to go with it served a la móde. It was heaven!

  18. Jasmine and Lyna, yes, rebosao!!! Love them when I go to Zamboanga. They are usually out of stock early so I seek them out right after lunch. Perfect merienda food.

  19. Jasmine, Lyna and Mila -i grew up in Zamboanga eating rebosao also and i cook it for my daughters here in Manila, they love it ‘coz its not oily like the banana que. just fry saba till brown, drain oil, melt sugar with little water till bubbly and thick, put back saba to coat with caramel then turn off heat, once cool, it caramelizes, azucarao as they say it in Zamboanga

  20. sister,
    we live one hour away from homestead but yes,we bought the “saha” or seedlings from there.the largest tropical fruits nurseries are found in homestead.

  21. i’m from naga city of bikol region and i looooove baduya!here in vancouver, i thought burro banana is like our “saba”. i cooked it baduya style, but to my dismay when i tasted it, it’s far from what i expected…i ate it anyway, no choice for a pregnant woman who craves for baduya…(T T )…

  22. I love this so much, I’m working here in Singapore.. im looking forward of having more of these Sinapot when I get back home.

  23. I read the comments about the bananacue from Zamboanga and being a native myself, I often get confused about what Manila people call bananacue because the bananacue that’s sold here (fried, then cooked in syrup of brown sugar and water) is called “rebusao” in Zambo. Bananacue is manibalang bananas skewered then grilled (like barbecue, that’s why it’s called bananacue) then spread with margarine or butter then rolled in white sugar.

    Anyhoo, I love maruya and in Zambo we often eat this with white sugar and ice cold coke! Ahh, good times.

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