Holy Bananas!

| November 17, 2009 | 8 Comments

When we have dinner parties and cook Thai food for company, our guests usually ask the names of the dishes they’re enjoying. Sometimes things just don’t translate well into English! Sometimes you need a censor at our dinner table. Most of the time you just need a sense of humor. Charles usually will sit there and smile while I try to explain.

There are things that just plain sound R-rated when pronounced in English: “Fuk Tong” means golden melon; “Poo Pad” means fried crab; and then there are dishes that defy translation into English, like one of our favorite Thai desserts, “Gluay Buad Chee,” which translates literally as “Bananas becoming nuns.”

It kind of reminds me of the dilapidated restaurant sign at a northeast Portland landmark that the neighborhood rallied to save from the developer’s wrecking ball, even though the restaurant had long since closed: “Hung Far Low.”

I don’t think “bananas becoming nuns” have been endowed with a higher calling per se, although when they’re wrapped in white sweet coconut milk sauce, I can imagine why they might have gotten their name. See, in Thailand, Buddhist nuns are clad in white robes, unlike the saffron robes of male Buddhist monks, so when a banana sheds its yellow peel for a bath in the white coconut milk sauce, it’s a whole other level of food heaven. Let me tell you how.

Pranee’s “Bananas Becoming Nuns” — Gluay Buad Chee

Bananas in silky sweet coconut sauce

  1. 1 can (13.5 ounces or 400 ml.) of coconut milk
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar (60ml.)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5 ml.)
  4. 6 baby bananas or 2 full-sized bananas, slightly green
  • Heat coconut milk over medium heat in a small saucepan until it starts to boil, add sugar and salt and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Peel and add baby bananas, or ad the full-sized bananas cut into 2 inch pieces.
  • Cover with lid and turn off heat.

You can leave the bananas in the saucepan covered while you prepare and eat dinner. The bananas will still be warm come dessert time and simply serve them in bowls and enjoy a little piece of Thai heaven.

— Vic

Tags: , , ,

Category: Desserts, Thai

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (8)

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  1. Marlene says:

    Your translations are pretty funny, Victor, but the dish sounds great.


  2. Shop Boy says:

    I have had this dish, served by Pranee herself, and would fight lions or sharks if it would get me another serving off the stuff.

    Vic — I’ve actually been thinking about the translation ever since that meal, particularly the “becoming” part. What do you think of the notion that it’s sort of like “worthy of” or “befitting”? Perhaps your headline is exactly spot-on: Bananas befitting the purest children of God kind of deal.

    OK, perhaps the dessert made me insane.


  3. charlesprice says:

    Hey Steve, the French have this ever-so-light delicacy:

    “This nun’s farts recipe, also called pets de nonne, is the delight of French-Canadian children. The traditional French recipe is for a light choux puff, but in Canada it evolved as a way to use leftover pastry scraps. This treat is brushed with butter, sprinkled with sugar, and rolled into spirals. The pastry spirals are then baked into crispy, flaky confections that are best eaten fresh and warm from the oven.” From: http://frenchfood.about.com/od/desserts/r/canadianfarts.htm

  4. This blog post cracked me up… I loved the bananas becoming nuns name, too. Thanks for sharing…I love all desserts with bananas in them. xo

  5. MC says:

    This looks so good and sweet! Simple too! I’ll have to sneak by my boyfriend who dislikes coconut - weirdo…

  6. Charles says:

    MC - We have so many recipes in our house that use coconut milk that I never equate it with toasted and shaved coconut. Perhaps he won’t recognize it since it looks like cream. Let us know how it goes and thanks for visiting.

  7. What a great idea ! my kids would absolutely love that dish! simple and flavorful! plus we are all enamored with Thai food!

  8. vpanichkul says:

    Thanks! Let us know how it turns out! By the way you have a beautiful web site! I love Lebanese food.

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