Back in the Day: How to make banana lumpia with jackfruit
Banana lumpia, called turon in Tagalog, is a sweet and crispy dessert of banana wrapped in a delicate thin pastry wrapper and fried to a delightful crisp.
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Joyce Vinluan of Kalihi laughs when asked how she makes banana lumpia.
“Everyone from the Philippines knows how to make banana lumpia,” she says.”It is everyone’s favorite snack or dessert. My son Jancen says he can eat 10, but I limit him to four at a time.”
The treat, called turon in her Tagalog dialect, is a sweet and crispy dessert of banana wrapped in a delicate thin pastry wrapper and fried to a delightful crisp. It is sweetened both inside and out with dark brown sugar.
Vinluan moved to Hawaii more than 20 years ago from Cavite City, a suburb of Manila. She taught herself to make turon after trying many versions, and added two twists: She includes slightly tart strips of jackfruit, and coats it in a caramel sauce made from heating dark brown sugar in oil.
The recipe is not complicated, but you do need to think ahead. The bananas should be ripe and firm, but not mushy. If you buy them green it could take up to a week for them to ripen.
Vinluan prefers cooking bananas, but as they can be hard to find, use apple bananas instead. Each turon uses one small banana.
The combination of the tougher jackfruit with the tender banana works well. Some farmers markets sell fresh jackfruit, but a canned Thai brand is available in many Asian stores.
Round pastry shells are used as wrappers, found frozen in many stores that sell Filipino ingredients. Square shells, Vinluan says, are for savory meat and vegetable lumpia.
The defrosted pastry shells are paper thin, so the trickiest part of this recipe is carefully peeling the sheets apart. Don’t worry if you tear a few holes. Position any holes at the edge so that when you start rolling the wrapper they are hidden in the center.
They are rolled up like a cigar, with the ends left open. You can roll a number of turon and freeze them for up to a month, so you always have them available.
Vinluan deep-fries the turon, then sprinkles more brown sugar in the hot oil, where it blooms into a gooey caramel sauce floating on top of the oil. The turon pieces are turned to coat them in the caramel.
The delicacy can be eaten hot or at room temperature. “It’s the best with vanilla ice cream or with hot coffee,” Vinluan says. It may become your family favorite.
Turon (Banana-Jackfruit Lumpia)
- 10 round frozen lumpia pastry shells (usually sold in packs of 40)
- 10 ripe cooking bananas or apple bananas
- 3/4 cup fresh jackfruit or 1 can (8-ounce drained weight)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, divided (substitute light brown sugar)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups canola, vegetable or coconut oil
Defrost pastry shells overnight in refrigerator or about 1-1/2 hours at room temperature. Carefully separate thin sheets and set aside.
Peel bananas and slice in half lengthwise on a slight diagonal. Set aside.
Cut or tear jackfruit into 1/4-inch strips, tearing with the grain. Set aside.
Place 1/2 cup brown sugar in a small plate. Fill a small cup or bowl with water.
Place first pastry shell on a plate or flat surface. Roll a piece of banana in brown sugar and place in the bottom quarter of the wrapper. Add another piece of banana, leaving about 1 inch open on both sides of the shell.
Coat a few strips of jackfruit in sugar and place on top of the banana. Fold bottom edge of wrapper over the sugared fruit and form a tight tube. Roll up until about 2 inches of shell is left. Wet pastry edge with water, using your finger, and seal the turon. Don’t seal ends.
Repeat to use up all the wrappers. At this point, turon may be placed in a plastic container or bag and frozen for up to a month. Defrost before frying.
To fry: Fill a large skillet with oil to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Heat to medium- high. Fry turon in batches until brown, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove, drain oil and place turon upright in a colander placed over a bowl or plate.
Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle remaining sugar over hot oil. It will bloom and turn into a caramel. Return turon to oil and turn to coat with caramel. Serve immediately or cool and serve at room temperature. Makes 10.
Nutritional information unavailable.
Lynette Lo Tom, author of “The Chinese Kitchen,” is fascinated by old-fashioned foods. Contact her at 275-3004 or via instagram at brightlightcookery. Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.