Banana. Sticky rice. Grated coconut. Palm sugar. Sound familiar? Probably not. These are our street food. They are like the great grandfather of Indonesian street food. Not many sold them anymore these days, since people prefer fried chicken or bubble tea, or doughnuts. They are sold as a set, a bit of sticky rice, a couple of deep-fried plantain bananas, freshly grated coconut and sprinkled with melted palm sugar and wrapped with banana leaves. I like to be greedy and ask the vendor to drench them. Really wet the whole thing. Most often than not, they pretend not to hearing me. I mean, what’s wrong with a bit more of palm sugar? It’s not like the cost a lot, right?
When we make it at home, I can be generous. Like really generous. Okay, I think I had too much coffee at work today.
Back to the sticky rice. I used Nick Munro’s Pewter mould to shape the sticky rice to a nice cone and deep-fry some bananas, serve them with the mandatory coconut and palm sugar.
Sticky rice (or glutinous rice) has to be soaked overnight, or at least 3-4 hours, to fully hydrate the grains. I am always told to get Thai’s sticky rice, which generally cost about twice as much as our local’s. The grains are said to be better shaped, or whole, compared to the more broken grains often found in local’s sticky rice. On the day you are to steam the rice, drain the liquid off and place rice in a steamer, preferably the ones with a lot of holes, bottom and sides. Fill the bottom part of the steamer with water, not touching the rice. You will end up with mushy porridge. Cook over high heat, covered.
Prepare the grated coconut and a bit of coconut milk. Don’t forget to add some salt into the coconut milk.
After steaming for half an hour, the water level would most likely be reduced, significantly. Pull the steamer out and add some more hot water. Continue steaming over high heat.
Pour coconut milk into steaming sticky rice. Give the rice a bit of stir to distribute coconut milk evenly.
Steam for another 30 minutes. The grains would be light and fluffy. And sticky obviously. Keep the cover closed until ready to serve.
Now it’s time to prepare batter for frying banana. The traditional street style fried banana (or plantains) use cornmeal. It gives the fried stuff the nice orangish brownish color. And since it cost much cheaper than rice flour or wheat flour, it is the more reason to choose cornmeal over the white flour.
Combine cornmeal, water and tapioca flour (or rice flour) in a mixing bowl.
Stir until it becomes a thick paste.
The bananas are always sliced lengthwise into four or five slices with the bottom part intact so the slices can be opened up like a fan. If the bananas are too long, cut them into half and then slice them up.
When you are ready to deep-fry, heat wok or deep-fryer with enough oil. Don’t be skimpy. Deep-frying is deep-frying. It uses up a lot of oil. Dip banana into batter, using a fork is the easiest way.
Lightly lower battered bananas into hot oil. Fry over medium heat for about four minutes, till crunchy and brown.
See? Nice and brown and crunchy. Do the frying in batches.
To serve, line cones with food grade plastic. Fill the cones with sticky rice to the brim. Lightly pack the rice and flatten the top. Carefully lift the plastic bag and flip the sticky rice on a platter. Arrange a couple of fried bananas and two tablespoon of grated coconut. Drizzle everything with palm sugar sauce.
Enjoy warm, with a big glass of sweet iced tea.
Makes 4 servings
- 500 g glutinous rice, washed and soaked overnight
- 80 cc coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 ripe plantains, sliced without cutting through the fruit
- 75 g cornmeal
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour
- 125 cc cold water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Cooking oil for deep-frying
- 100 g grated coconut
- 250 g palm sugar, melted with 50 cc hot water.
Steam sticky rice with a steamer for 30 minutes over high heat.
Pour coconut milk on top of steaming rice and quickly give it a stir.
Check the water level and continue steaming for another 30 minutes.
Heat cooking oil in a wok for deep-frying.
Combine water, corn meal, tapioca flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
Mix them to a thick paste consistency.
Dip bananas into batter and lower them into hot oil, one by one.
Deep-fry over medium heat till golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.
Serve bananas with sticky rice, grated coconut and palm sugar sauce.