One of my favorite ways to eat ulu (and banana) is to pan fry it in butter or ghee. Besides eating these two fruits raw, this recipe offers a simple way to enjoy ulu or banana without diminishing their unique essence and flavor with a lot of other ingredients. It makes me doubly appreciate the genius of God when I cook ulu or bananas this way…
Before one jumps right into making this elegant preparation, one needs to assess the the ripeness level of their ulu. I am a fanatic about eating breadfruit when it’s PERFECT. “Perfect” to me, means not too swishy and not too hard, but just beginning to soften. When a breadfruit is hard, or under ripe, and you cook it, its flavor is predominantly starchy. As it ripens the starches slowly convert to sugars and by the time the flesh is soft it is sweet as pudding.
There are many lovely recipes for using breadfruit when it is soft and sweet or hard and starchy. But this is a recipe especially delicious when the ulu is in transition between starchy and sweet. When you steam breadfruit at this particular ripening stage it comes like sweet bread. It is absolutely delicious eaten plain and warm just like this. No salt or butter or sauces necessary… But on some days, I want crunchy and salty, so I fry it in oil after I’ve steamed it.
As for bananas you don’t need to steam them first. But wait till they are ripe. Whether you’ve got a cooking-banana or a regular (non-cooking) banana you can pan fry it in oil (butter, ghee, coconut) and get a delicious result. In the case of cooking-bananas, when you fry them ripe the heat brings out their sweetness, which isn’t so much present when eaten raw. For non-cooking bananas, I taste that the sweetness is actually lessened through the process of cooking, instead of enhanced, which can be very nice also. In both cases, the bananas are warm! When you need that comfort spot to be hit, cook your bananas (and eat them in a wooden bowl, for maximum coziness…) They don’t need salt, they don’t need sugar or honey. Though generally, I like to sprinkle them with cinnamon and have plain yogurt on the side.
So, how to do this…it’s outrageously simple! Here we go!
Pan Fried Ulu
- One or more perfectly ripe ulus
- Butter, ghee, or coconut oil (essentially, any high heating oil)
- sea salt
- Steam 1 or more whole, unpeeled breadfruits for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker or steamer. (For the Instant Pot it takes 30 mins, it may take longer on the stove…)
- When cooking is complete remove lid and let cool to a temperature that is handleable
- Half your bread fruit and removed the core. Then slice into long slim wedges. Do NOT peel: this takes time, plus you would be throwing away the best part…
- Add a moderate amount of oil to your pan and heat at medium high
- Add slices of ulu. Allow them to cook till they are lightly browned, then flip them each over with a pair of tongs or two forks
- Have a plate nearby to receive the breadfruit when it is done cooking. At this point you can lightly remove some of the oil with a towel if you so desire
When cooking is complete and you have a pile of ulu fries you can salt them you your liking and enjoy them plain or with avocado/guacamole and hot sauce. Or as a side dish to your Indian curry, or a substitute for hash browns at breakfast. It’s up to you 🙂
Pan Fried Popoulu
If you can find this variety of rare banana you should grow it, keep it safe and propagate the keiki. This might be my favorite cooking banana ever. The fruits grow sooo big and fat and beautiful… Momona nani loa!
But whatever banana type you do have on hand nevertheless will be delicious. For a non-cooking banana, it doesn’t have to be drippingly ripe. It is better if it isn’t, and just a smidgen on the unripe side–but not green! I especially stress this point for mainland shipped bananas, no need to wait till they get brown.
WHAT TO DO:
- Peel them. Duh. Slice ‘em a centimeter thick. You could slice them long ways or short. It’s up to you. Both ways are yum
- Heat your pan with oil and plop ‘em in when you sense the oil is heated well. They’ll sizzling when they hit the oil and brown well
- Remove from heat, remove excess oil, and serve up!
A Tasty Sauce…
In a teacup size bowl combine honey, ghee, and cinnamon and stir them together well. Spoon over cooked bananas for an extra squirt of oxytocin to the brain 🙂
Conclusion, Reflection, and Final Notes:
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