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18 September 2012

Banana Spring Rolls (Turon)

Now that both kids are in school, I am often asked what I do in the mornings.  "Which mornings?",  I often reply.   School only started last Thursday and they are still on shortened schedules until the end of the month.   If these mornings signify the freed one hour and a half these past days, then I must admit that I almost don't feel it.  After fixing the beds, collecting the clothes and toys, cleaning up, emptying the dishwasher and washing machine, hanging the clothes, the whole morning is lost.  I wish I had THAT free morning that everyone seems to impose on me like a luxury that I never had.  Sometimes, stay-at-home moms are thought of as the freest people on earth.  We are not. 

There are no sick leaves, no vacation leaves, no working schedule, no colleagues to rely on and absolutely no pay.  We barely even have time for ourselves.   Have you ever seen a stay-at-home mom who looks well-rested and looks like she just came from a beauty farm?  I think we are the worst-looking lot if I may say so. 

Oh well.  A part of our job to make a household run smoothly is to cook for the family.  I do it twice a day, sometimes even three if I feel like it, every single day.  One of the snacks or desserts I loved when I was growing up was turon or banana spring rolls.  They are fried spring rolls stuffed with bananas and strips of jackfruit.  They can be heavy at times because they are fried but this is one way of enjoying cooked bananas.

When I find plantain bananas, I often do these spring rolls at home.  Sometimes coated with sugar, sometimes without.  Either way, they're good.   Saba or cardaba bananas are still the best cooking bananas in my opinion because they are much sweeter and much more delicious. If you are lucky enough to find yourself choosing between the two in a fruit market, get the saba bananas.  In the Philippines, saba bananas are the only ones we had whereas here in Italy, I can only get the plantains.   I wait for them to ripen to yellow before I use them for cooking.  If they are still green, they come out dry, hard and insipid.

Philippine cuisine is one of the least known cuisines and outside the country, it's pretty hard to find a restaurant specializing in Philippine cooking.  So when someone told me about SARAP, a new fast-food type Filipino restaurant that recently opened in Rome, I immediately herded my family to try it out.  The place only has a few tables and some bar stools on one side of the restaurant.  I noticed that there is no kitchen so the food is already pre-cooked and reheated there. For this reason the menu is quite limited.  There is a section for halo-halo, a dessert of mixed sweetened beans and fruits with crushed ice and milk (lower right portion of the photo above).  The food is wonderful, the owners are genial and the place is pristine.  It's the place to come to for a little meal from the country I used to call home.  Sarap.  It means delicious.

Have a good week everyone!

Banana Spring Rolls (Turon)

Makes 8 rolls
  • 2 ripe plantain bananas or 4 saba or cardaba bananas (Plantain bananas are usually bigger than saba bananas.  So I am gauging 1/2 plantain is equivalent to 1 saba.)
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • muscovado sugar or regular brown sugar
  • 8 slivers of jackfruit (fresh or preserved in syrup)
  • oil for frying
  • chopped pistachios (optional)
  1. Peel & cut away about two centimeters from both ends of the bananas and where there are discolorations.  Slice bananas lengthwise.  If using plantain, cut in half horizontally then half again vertically.  If using saba, cut in half lengthwise.  
  2. Lay down spring roll wrapper on a a plate or a working board.  Put a slice of banana on it, closer to one end.  Put a sliver of jackfruit and sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Fold the side closest to the banana to cover it then fold both ends.  Roll until the end.  Pat the end of the wrapper with a little bit of water to make it stick.  Do the other rolls.
  4. Heat a lot of oil in a saucepan for frying.  To check if the oil is ready, dip a wooden skewer in the oil and if bubble appear around it, then the oil is hot enough.  Fry the spring rolls until golden brown & crunchy.
  5. If you want the caramel to coat the bananas well, warm up some oil in another saucepan (Or the same saucepan. Just lessen the oil from the saucepan.) then add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  When the sugar melts and the oil is hot, roll the spring rolls on the caramel until they are all well coated.  
  6. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios before serving (if using).