This dish really embodies the spirit of rustic, simply Thai home cooking. If you grow banana trees, you'll know that when they bare fruit, they bare a LOT of fruit all at once! So this is a dish my grandmother always makes whenever our banana tree bore fruit, and it's a go-to dish because it's so simple and delicious. I never get tired of it!
I'm using baby bananas of "gluay kai" here, but it's more common in Thailand to use "gluay namwa" because they are firmer and hold their shape well when cooked. However, I actually prefer the gluay kai version because of the soft, sweet, juiciness they have. Regular bananas can also be used you just have to be really careful not to overcook them, use very gentle heat, and choose ones that are still a little bit too green to eat.
Do ahead tips: This is one of those dishes that taste even better the next day, so if you can, make it in advance!
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- 8 baby bananas (gluay kai), at the perfect eating ripeness (see note)
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- ¾ cup water
- 3 Tbsp sugar (you can add less or more to your liking)
- ¼ + ⅛ tsp salt
- 5 inches pandan leaf
Note: You can use 4 regular bananas (gluay hom) instead and half them lengthwise and crosswise, but keep the heat very low and keep an eye on them as become mushy quickly! If you want to make the gluay namwa version, these instructions DO NOT apply! They require slightly different process.
Combine coconut milk, water, sugar, salt, and pandan leaf in a small pot and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the bananas, and there should be just enough liquid to barely cover the bananas. If there doesn't seem to be enough liquid, you can add a bit more of both coconut milk and water.
Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Once it reaches a rapid simmer, turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes until the bananas are soft.
Remove from heat, cover, and let the bananas sit in the coconut milk for at least another 10 minutes or until ready to serve; the bananas will continue to cook and the flavours will mingle and marry further.
Serve warm. Enjoy!