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I adore Vietnamese food, especially the zing in certain Vietnamese desserts. Most of the time, they add some freshly-minced or dried chili peppers in their sweets. Although once in a while I enjoy this tongue lashing, most of the time I want to taste the true fruit, unadulterated. So I took a popular Vietnamese banana fritter recipe and altered it many years ago. I forgot all about it until I was thumbing through my notes for my second cookbook and happened upon it. It is far simpler to prepare than the Vietnamese version and I believe much simpler and clean in flavor. If you want, by all means add some cinnamon to the batter, but remember, you will need to find Vietnamese cinnamon to be authentic (as well as about another dozen or so ingredients). So enjoy this treat two ways; see below.

Fried banana with sweetened coconut

  • 6 ripe (not too firm) bananas, cut lengthwise and crosswise
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • Rum or liquor of your choice (optional)

Prepare batter by mixing the flour and water in a medium sized bowl. Dip the bananas in the batter, shake excess batter off and coat them with the shredded coconut. Add oil to a deep saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Place bananas, in batches so oil doesn't cool, in oil and fry about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle dark rum over the top if desired or make this delicious brie cheese dip.

Dip: Combine 8 oz. brie cheese (or use cream cheese, gouda or mascarpone) with 1 t. lemon or lime juice, 2 T. maple syrup(or use honey), 1/2 t. dried, ground ginger and 1/2 c. yogurt. Beat or whisk until smooth.

For those of you who are gluten intolerant, have celiac disease (1 out of 133 have it) or simply want to watch your saturated fat levels, here is a great alternative. I made this recipe both ways, and here is the picture to prove that there is no visual or taste difference in the two. Use canola oil instead of vegetable oil when frying and substitute the same amount of cornstarch as flour in the above recipe. Omit the dip if desired.

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