Chinese-style banana fritters with ginger ice cream


First published in 2016
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In the Western world, dessert is the apogee of a meal, the course that everyone eagerly waits for. In China, however, things are a little different; desserts do not feature so prominently in meals. Chinese culture calls for a healthier ending to a meal, favouring fresh fruits as an after dinner treat, but this doesn't mean there is a total absence of sweet dishes. Instead, a sweet tooth is indulged between meals, especially when entertaining or celebrating special occasions. There are a few reasons why fancy desserts do not hold a long tradition in Chinese food culture – the lack of refrigerators made it difficult to store food. Ovens are also rare in Chinese kitchens, which is why recipes often call for cakes to be steamed rather than baked.

However, a few Chinese desserts have caught on in the West.

Batter-covered bananas a very popular treat in China, deep-fried and drizzled with a syrup glaze. Some recipes call for a double deep-fry which gives this sweet treat a richer flavour. Here is my take on the Chinese-style banana fritters.




Banana fritters

Ginger ice cream

  • 200g of stem ginger, chopped, plus the syrup from the jar
  • 200ml of whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100g of sugar
  • 400ml of double cream
To begin, make the ice cream. Gently heat the milk in a saucepan and set aside. Prepare an ice bath by placing a medium bowl, enough to hold 2.5 litres of liquid, over a larger bowl partially filled with ice water
Place a strainer over the smaller bowl and set aside
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and the sugar has dissolved. Gradually pour the warmed milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly
Pour the mixture back into the same saucepan you used to warm the milk. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, constantly stirring, until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon
Strain the custard into the top bowl of the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Add the double cream and stir over the ice bath until cool. Add the stem ginger syrup and chopped ginger
Cover tightly with cling film and chill the mixture. Churn in an ice cream maker or freeze until set
To make the banana fritters, mix the flour with half of the cold sparkling water to create a smooth paste. Stir in the melted butter
Whisk in the sugar and Chinese five spice until well-incorporated, then add the other half of the sparkling water. Reserve
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok to 180°C
Peel the bananas and cut in half lengthways before cutting each half into 3 horizontally
In small batches, dip the banana slices into the batter then gently lower into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen towel
Drizzle with ginger syrup or honey, dust with sesame seeds and serve with ginger ice cream
First published in 2016
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