Jake Jien: Banana Fritters / Khmer Fritter Recipe

Jake Jien Banana Fritters Recipe 2

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This is an authentic recipe from our team in Cambodia, featured in our Cambodia Recipe Box. The ingredients labeled with a * below are hard-to-find ingredients that we’ve sourced from Cambodia and are all included in our recipe box which is available for shipping throughout the USA and China. For more information and to purchase online, click here.

The Story of Khmer Banana Fritters​

This is an extremely popular snack found all over Cambodia. In western supermarkets, you typically only see one type of banana, but in Cambodia, we use many different types for many different purposes. Vendors often have preferences for which type of banana is used, mashing them flat on the inside of a halved bamboo trunk, and then letting it slide down into the batter, using the bamboo tube as a slide. 

Certain types of bananas hold their shape better when mashed and fried, some prefer a flatter softer bite, while others like a firmer and slightly-tenderized banana. Bananas are by far the most common street-fritter around, but other products like sweet potatoes are popular as well. There are also vendors who batter beef and peppercorn meatballs, chicken feet, and other types of savory treats as well. 

Recipe Note:

We’ve seen some variation in our recipe testing based on humidity. The batter should look like a thick pancake batter after it sits for 15 minutes. If it’s not quite hitting the mark after a trial test, add more flour or coconut milk/water until it reaches the optimal consistency. 

Be wary, not all coconut milk is the same. We’ve chosen this one because it is the most similar in taste and composition to local freshly-squeezed coconut milk in Cambodian markets. There are no extra ingredients that screw up its many uses. Just make sure to shake the carton vigorously before using. We’ve also included a dried mix as well (which we’ve tested too) that has a long shelf life for you to always be able to whip out something deliciously Cambodian at your leisure. 

This battering recipe is so simple and turns out so well every time that it’s our go-to now for other recipes. Coconut fish and chips, chicken nuggets, katsu, and cauliflower poppers have all been adopted because this recipe is just so damn easy.  No egg-dredging, no breading, and it comes out crunchy every time. Not to mention it’s perfect for group events when there are celiacs, vegans, and other allergies present. 

This batter is okay to sample “raw” if you want to play around with sugar, sesame seeds, and dried coconut flake amounts. Start low in seasonings, and amp up after the first fried batch- this batter really amplifies whatever you put in it, so a tiny amount goes miles. 

Your kitchen will be filled with an amazing coconut-y aroma, but as you eat the sesame seeds add a delightful aromatic layer as well. We like to be quite generous with this with both sweet and savory varieties. Vendors typically use black seeds which stand out beautifully against the golden crust, but white works just as well. 

You’ll have to play around a little bit depending on the type of bananas you get at your supermarket, but they need to be slightly firm, and on the greener side without any browning. Popular street alternatives include peppery beef meatballs and sweet potato wedges- but these are often pre-cooked before they are battered. If you’re going with savory ingredients, make sure they are able to cook quickly in hot oil like small shrimp or thinly sliced onions- otherwise, you’ll end up with a crispy batter and a half-cooked inside.  

Serves 4-6 for a snack/dessert
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Skill Level: Intermediate

Ingredients

Items marked with a * are included in our Cambodia Recipe Box.

The Batter:

300 / 1 and ⅓ cups rice flour*

400ml pure full fat coconut milk* (or more, depending on humidity. Shake carton vigorously.)

Tiny pinch of salt 

50g / ¼ cup dried coconut flakes*

1 tsp black sesame seeds

1 drop of soy sauce, for color (optional for both sweet and salty version) 

Up to 50g / ¼ cup granulated sugar (optional for sweet version)

Bananas: 

12 small, just-ripe bananas (no brown spots, light yellow, fairly firm) sliced in half or sliced plantains.

500ml / 2 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or peanut oil, for deep-frying

Other Battering Ideas: 

Sweet potato fries

Small beef meatballs

Chicken feet (Yes, really!)

1lb shrimp peeled and de-veined 

Okra with tops removed

Lotus roots thinly sliced

Thinly sliced onions

Optional: Honey and/or ice cream, to serve for the sweet version. 

Optional: Equal parts salt, pepper, and lime juice as a dipping sauce. 

Directions

  1. Mix batter ingredients together until incorporated. Let the batter sit for at least 15 minutes for the flour to fully hydrate. While you wait, prepare your bananas. (See the last recipe note on preparation.) 
  2. Once your bananas are ready, bring everything by the stove. The batter should resemble a very thick pancake batter, add more coconut milk or water if it’s too dry, or more rice flour if it’s too wet. Prepare a wire rack to cool the finished goodies. 
  3. Taste-test the batter and the heat by dropping a small amount of batter into the hot oil and adjust the batter to taste if needed. 
  4. Keep the oil on medium-high heat. It should be hot enough that the batter sizzles on impact and it’s always bubbling. 
  5. Working in batches, gently dip the banana into the batter and lower gently into the oil. Don’t crowd the pan as it will decrease the temperature of the oil too much, and make your fritters greasy. You want them to always be bubbling enthusiastically.
  6. Cook about 2 minutes for each side or until they are golden brown and beautifully crispy. The exact time will depend on your pan/ingredients/oil, so you’ll need to measure with your eyes, not a clock. You’re looking for a crunch-factor that will be heard in the next room or one that would be out-lawed in movie theaters. Transfer to a wire rack as you move through the batches. 
  7. Honestly, we usually just eat them plain because they’re too good to wait for plating. On the street, they are served plain wrapped in newspaper. They also go really well with our no-machine coconut ice cream/froyo recipe. We like the savory ones with the classic Cambodian lemon-pepper sauce. Express yourself, it’s all good here.

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