As a Filipino born and raised in the Philippines, I grew up with traditional food including turon, a sweet spring roll with banana filling.
The version I grew up with had strips of ripe sweet jackfruit with the banana. I was never a fan of jackfruit and my way of eating turon back then was to bite off one end, pull off the jackfruit and proceed to eat the rest.
Sweet on sweet just wasn’t my thing. And when you consider that turon is traditionally sprinkled with brown sugar during frying, you can imagine why removing one layer of sweetness made turon more appealing to me.
To my young mind, turon was a Filipino thing. Spring rolls might be Chinese in origin but filling them with sweet fruits and coating them with sugar was surely the idea of a sugar-obsessed people. Imagine my amusement when, as an adult with adult children, I discovered that Vietnam has its own version of spring rolls with banana filling.
It was one of the dishes we made at the cooking school in Saigon. Smaller and daintier than the Filipino turon, not as cloying and with a more interesting mix of textures because of the inclusion of chopped toasted peanuts and sesame seeds in the filling.
We made our home version of the Vietnamese banana spring rolls. We used saba bananas (which are richer than other varieties), cashew nuts in lieu of peanuts, and a combination of black and white sesame seeds.
Unlike Filipino turon with one whole saba banana as filling, making the Vietnamese version requires cutting the banana into small cubes. Any ripe sweet banana can be used (saba banana is native to the Philippines, not to Vietnam).
To serve the banana spring rolls, I made mango coconut ice cream.
Vietnamese Banana Spring Rolls with Mango Coconut Ice Cream
- 4 ripe bananas peeled and cut into small cubes to measure one to one and a half cups
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts roughly chopped and toasted; cooled
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds toasted and cooled
- 15 small spring roll wrappers (if using large wrappers, just cut in half)
- white sugar optional
- cooking oil for deep frying
- mango coconut ice cream to serve (see notes after the recipe)
- Lay a spring roll wrapper flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of banana cubes, half teaspoon of nuts and half a teaspoon of sesame seeds (and a sprinkle of sugar, if you like) and wrap. Make sure to seal the edges by dabbing with water or egg wash.
- Repeat until all the wrappers have been filled or until you run out of filling, whichever comes first.
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least two inches.
- Fry the banana spring rolls in batches just until golden and crisp.
- Drain the banana spring rolls on paper towels.
- Serve with mango coconut ice cream.
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