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Banana fritters are a type of dessert made by coating or incorporating bananas in a sweet batter, then frying them in oil. Most banana fritters are bite-sized, and can be made either with whole banana segments or mashed fruit formed into round balls. The fritters are enjoyed by many different cultures, from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia. Most every country that grows bananas has a recipe for banana fritters.
In general, any food that is battered and fried in small pieces is known as a fritter. A banana fritter is simply a banana prepared in this fashion. Most batters involve egg, flour, and sugar but may also involve spices, seeds, or honey.
Banana fritters popular in Caribbean cuisine typically involve mashed bananas. These sorts of dessert fritters are usually relatively smooth in texture. They require ripe or overripe fruits that are peeled and stirred into the batter itself. These sorts of batters are typically sweet and often incorporate cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla flavors.
Caribbean fritters are usually dropped by spoonful into hot vegetable oil and fried. The batter, which is often thickened with milk and egg yolks, tends to retain its shape while cooking in the oil. Fritters are done when the dough floats to the top. These sorts of fritters resemble donut holes in shape, but have the rich taste of bananas.
The banana fritters popular in Southeast Asian cuisine are usually a bit different. Most of these are made with young, barely ripe bananas that have a firm consistency. The fruit is peeled, cut into small segments, then rolled in batter.
Asian-style batter is usually quite simplistic, usually made up of no more than flour, egg, and sugar. Bananas are usually speared or skewered and dipped into the batter, then removed, cooled, and often re-fried. Some recipes call for rolling the bananas in sesame seeds in between frying, which adds a certain crunch and savory texture to the finished fritter.
Most of the fritters popular in Southeast Asia are fried in coconut, sesame, or peanut oil. Chinese and Thai banana fritters often come accompanied by sweet red chili glaze. Banana fritters in Singapore are often served with vanilla ice cream or a honey glaze.
There is no definitive recipe for banana fritters, and cooks often innovate with both the batter and the presentation. As far as banana dishes go, banana fritters are one of the easiest to create and to make unique. They are almost always served as a dessert or sweet, however. Even fritters that are served with chili sauces are generally more sweet than spicy. The spice of chilies complements the sweetness of the fruit, but the banana flavor is usually always the dominant taste.