Recipe: Turon (fried banana dessert)

“We’re in plane full of superstitious Filipinos, on the way to the Philippines, one of the most superstitious and haunted countries on earth. It’d be completely understandable if you saw a ghost.” – Charlie. From  “The Woods” by Joan Reginaldo. 

 

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Turon. Lego Plant Monster for scale.

Turon (tu-rún. The second syllable is slightly more accented. Doesn’t rhyme with ‘run’ or ‘rune’ or ‘ron’ but is a weird combination of all three words, said quickly). It’s also known as Lumpyang saging (LOOM-pyang SAH-ging).

This is one of my favorite snacks. It’s usually served during merienda, which is akin to “teatime”. It’s not so common at parties, probably because if anyone’s going to wrap and deep fry something for a party, they’ll bring a savory lumpia.

Turon is a handy recipe if you like to entertain casual afternoon events. It’s also good for around the holidays, when people sometimes drop by with just a few hours’ notice. The ingredients can be kept on-hand for a long time, it comes together easily, and you can set aside an almost-finished product for a few hours before frying. In fact, my sister likes to let it sit for a bit to get the sugar moistened by banana slime.

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This is what jackfruit looks like on the outside.
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This is the brand of lumpia wrappers I like. You can find it in the freezer

INGREDIENTS:

1 pack of lumpia wrappers
About 3 large plantains (long, slim, and hard) or 4 large saba bananas (short, fat, and soft – Sometimes called a burro banana). The amount is up to you, but figure about one banana per person.
About a quarter of a large jackfruit. (Asian markets sometimes sell these cut open. My parents prefer to buy them this way, because you can see how sweet the edible part will be by how dark yellow or dark orange the nubs are. You won’t need much so see if the store will cut one in half or quarter one for you. The edible part will taste almost like a drier, firmer mango. ***Note: Some people find the smell of jackfruit very offensive. Some people are allergic to jackfruit fibers. You can totally leave it out of this recipe.)
1/2 cup to a cup of brown sugar. This will be up to you. Make a batch to my specs and increase or decrease to your personal preference.
2 tablespoons of flour
Enough water to make that flour into a soupy paste (Aim for the consistency of school glue (or uh, some other white, sticky substance); it will be used to “glue” a flap of the lumpia wrapper to the body of the turon.)
Oil for deep frying.

PROCEDURE (I write these like I’m writing the procedure for a high school chemistry experiment. If you’re savvy with rolling and frying things, the pictures might suffice.):

1. Just like with the shanghai lumpia, gently separate all the sheets of lumpia wrappers. Keep them in a large zip-closed plastic bag until you’re ready for them. Any unused sheets can be kept in the fridge for about a week.

2. Eviscerate the jackfruit. (Take the jackfruit apart.) It’s easy to do by hand, but if the white part irritates your skin, you can wear gloves. But if the white part irritates you, you might want to consider leaving it out of the recipe altogether. You should have something that looks like a shiny yellow-orange walnut. There’s a seed in it. Cut the thing open and remove and discard the seed.

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Dig out these yellow nubs.

 

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This is the edible part. Open this and remove the seed.

3.  Slice the jackfruit nub into slivers, like how you would slice a bell pepper for a salad or pizza topping. Set this aside.

4. For this example, I’ll use a plantain, but turon is usually made with saba or burro bananas. In my area, it’s hard to get saba bananas that aren’t too green or too overripe. When picking out a plantain or saba banana, you’ll probably be going against your instinct to get unblemished bananas (I know I do!). Plantains are firm until they’re unusable, but a good one will have a lot of black on it. Try to pick ones with no sharply defined side ridges. For saba bananas, you’ll want them to be on the firm-soft side (to me, it feels like squeezing the edge of a good memory foam pillow – it should not be as soft as a fresh donut), but completely yellow with a fair amount of black marks.

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This is what a ripe plantain looks like. For scale, that’s the biggest knife I have. 

5. Cut the plantain in half, then cut each half into thirds. You’re aiming for a plank the size, but twice the width, of an old Apple TV remote.

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Actually, this plantain was a little on the smaller side. 

6. Take a slice and coat it with brown sugar.

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I coat the planks by rolling them in a bowl of brown sugar. 

7. Place a lumpia wrapper before you, askew so it’s a diamond. Put the banana plank on the lower part. Add a few slivers of the jackfruit. Starting with the corner closest to you, roll up the banana plank. Halfway up the diamond, fold in the left and right corners. Then continue to roll the plank.

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Banana plank with some jackfruit slivers. 

8. Using your forefinger, smear a dab of the flour-water glue on the corner farthest from you. Roll the turon all the way, pressing that corner onto the turon to seal it.

9. Keep rolling all your banana planks until you’re done. You can set these aside for about an hour to get nice and sticky. If, for some unexpected reasons, you can’t fry them for a few hours, you can keep them in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap or in a big airtight container.

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Wrapped turon ready for frying. You can see the suar-slime seeping through. 

10. Just before serving, fry them. Don’t crowd your pot. There should be enough room for them to float freely. For example, in a pot that would cook about a can of soup or a block of ramen noodles, I’ll fry two or three at a time. Fry until they’re golden, like french fries, or a yellow labrador that’s just had a bath. If you’re unsure, leave them in. Taking them out too early could result in underdone bananas, soggy lumpia wrapper, or both. It’s harder to err by leaving them in a little longer.

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On the left are naked plantain planks, fried. 

You can serve these puppies as is, á la mode, with a berry dipping sauce, or with a dusting of cinnamon. Once fried, they don’t refrigerate well. In fact, they don’t keep well because the wrapping gets soggy. However, leftovers have rarely been an issue for me!

As always, if you loved this recipe, or if anything was confusing, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

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