Who doesn’t like bananas? Probably the world’s favorite fruit grows just about everywhere in Thailand from well-kept gardens to plantations and even on the roadside, their big green leaves waving as you pass them by.
In the west, everyone knows the long, almost straight top banana variety known as Cavendish as it’s widely sold in supermarkets the world over. However, there are over a hundred varieties of banana with more than 30 or more in Thailand.
Types of Bananas in Thailand
Nu Meu Puying or ‘Lady Finger’, Gluai homm, gluei khai ‘egg’, Roy Wee ‘100 Bunches’, Gluay Hawn ‘Fragrant Gold’ (my favorite), Gluay Nam Wah (Katae’s favorite) and Jun ‘Sandlewood’ to name but a few.
Banana plants are technically overgrown herbs not trees as the stem doesn’t contain any woody tissue. This makes a banana a fruit and a herb and related to ginger.
Thais use all parts of the banana plant especially the leaves. Leaves are used to wrap food, as plates and roofing material but not at the same time! Katae recently made Loy Kratong from the stem and the leaves, check her blog post here to see how she did it.
The banana plant also produces a purple flower as large as a guinea pig that is also eaten (the flower that is, not the guinea pig) in stir-fries and salads but it’s the fruit we all really love to eat.
I prefer to eat my bananas first thing in the morning with my porridge or muesli for the complex carbohydrates so I have plenty of energy until my elevensies.
Thais will grill, fry and cook bananas in sweet syrup or coconut milk for desserts. They can also be found in pancakes, banana cake (of course) and in between two slices of fresh bread with lashings of Nutella, or is that just me?
We like to buy sun-dried bananas from a local permaculture farm on Koh Chang’s East side called Suan Khun Poo – Grand Father’s Farm for 60 baht. Until recently I assumed these sweet treats were coated in honey but have only just discovered they are 100% banana. If you are visiting Koh Chang, definitely pay them a visit. They grow many types of bananas including the one shown in the graphic that is well over a foot long and thick as my arm. Now that’s a big breakfast!
We Have No Bananas Today!
The infamous Cavendish banana is rapidly becoming infected with an incurable disease, which threatens to wipe out not only whole crops, but whole economies world-wide. Scientists are desperately looking to find a cure.
So the old banana in your supermarket may not be around forever, but while you are in Thailand, try as many different varieties as you can. I’m sure you will find a new favorite.
Enjoyed this post? Got something to add? Don’t split until you let us know in the comments below, you’ll be a top banana!
Let’s Go Bananas