You'll Go Bananas for This Sweet, Crunchy, 4-Ingredient Filipino Street Snack

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Fried carbs: yum. Fried carbs involving spring-roll wrappers filled with sweet bananas and jackfruit, rolled into crêpe-like tubes, then crisped up in the pan? Triple yum. Enter the Filipino street food known as turon, aka banana lumpia.

If you've ever had meat or veggie-filled lumpia, turon's savory cousins, you know just how hit-the-spot tasty these snacks can be. Next time you're craving one (or six), you don't have to go searching. You can make them yourself, with these easy tips and no-fuss recipe.

First, let's talk about the ingredients. There are only four in turon. Yup, four. You probably already have at least one of them, brown sugar, in your pantry. As for the other three, here are some quick pointers.

Bananas

The regular sweet bananas you buy at the grocery store in the U.S. don't do justice to the whole universe of bananas out there. In the Philippines, you'll come across different varieties of bananas, and you'll find them used as a staple food in cooked dishes since they're loaded with starch. Bananas are to Filipino food what potatoes are to the American diet, basically.

At Asian markets, you'll typically see four or five types of bananas to choose from. If you're making turon, choose the less sweet and more starchy saba bananas, or cooking bananas (they're sometimes called cardaba bananas too).

Saba bananas are bigger than the regular ones you're probably used to, but not as large as plantains. Ripe saba bananas are a deep yellow, but their tips, corners and edges tend to look brown.

While saba bananas are traditional for turon, you can use regular bananas too. Just keep in mind that regular bananas are already super sweet and mush very easily, so it pays to track down saba bananas if you can.  

Jackfruit

You're lucky if you've seen jackfruit at your supermarket. Most grocery stores stateside don't stock it. When you do get your hands on one, you might notice that it smells like a combination of overripe peach, mango and pineapple, and tastes ultra-sweet and tropical. Jackfruit, better known as langka in the Philippines, is actually the largest tree-growing fruit in the world.

The photo above shows how huge jackfruit can get. Here, you can see how they compare in size to regular Dole bananas. This biggest jackfruit probably weighs at least 40 pounds.

In Asian markets, you can often buy fresh jackfruit cut into smaller, easier-to-handle pieces. The yellow bulbs are the edible parts.

Fresh jackfruit is ideal when you're making turon, but it's not a make-or-break ingredient. If you strike out on the fresh variety, look for canned or jarred jackfruit in the Asian section of your grocery store. Lots of different brands offer the fruit whole or sliced, and usually packed in syrup. For flexibility, you might want to buy the whole pieces and slice them into strips yourself.

Lumpia Wrappers

Once you get to know the lumpia wrapper, you'll want to wrap everything in it. Ohhh, that crunch!

Lumpia wrappers may be labeled as spring-roll wrappers, lumpia wrappers, spring-roll shells, spring-roll pastrie, and so on. Don't be confused by the names; they’re all the same. For this recipe, you may find it easier to buy the square wrappers instead of the round ones.

Without further ado, let's get started on the recipe.

Turon (Banana Lumpia)

Makes 16 rolls

Ingredients

  • 16 lumpia or spring-roll wrappers
  • 1 can of jackfruit
  • 4 ripe saba bananas
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

1. Thaw the Lumpia Wrappers

Thaw lumpia or spring-roll wrappers. Peel them apart to make preparing the turon easier. Once they’re peeled apart, cover them with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.

2. Slice the Jackfruit

If you're using canned jackfruit, drain the syrup and cut the fruit into strips, if it's not already sliced.

3. Cut Up the Bananas

Cut each saba banana into four pieces lengthwise. It tends to be easier to leave the skin on, cut the ends off, then cut the bananas into the four pieces before peeling the skin off each piece.

4. Get Rollin'

Spread brown sugar in a shallow dish. Roll the banana slices in the sugar, making sure each piece ends up covered with a generous amount of the sweet stuff.

5. Fill the Wrappers

Now you're ready to fill the wrappers. Set a lumpia wrapper down on a flat surface in front of you, then put a banana slice on the wrapper two-thirds of the way down. Add two or three strips of jackfruit, placing them along the length of the banana.

Start folding the wrapper from the bottom up. You want to wrap it tight.

Next, fold the sides in and continue to roll up the wrapper. Moisten the top inch with water before rolling it up completely. 

6. Sprinkle with Sugar

Once you've rolled up all the fruit-filled wrappers, dust the rolls with the remaining brown sugar. This will give them a light glaze and a more pronounced crunch.

7. Fry 'Em Up

Heat about an inch of oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the turon on each side, turning as needed, until they're golden brown, about two or three minutes. Place them in a metal colander or on a wire rack with paper towels under it so they can drain (if you set them down right onto the paper towels, they'll stick).

Let cool and serve immediately.

Oh, and if you're tempted to eat them all in one sitting, you definitely wouldn't be the first.

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You'll Go Bananas for This Sweet, Crunchy, 4-Ingredient Filipino Street Snack