Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen
Season 3 in High Definition
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Primal Grill is filmed at Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico.
Episode: 308 :: Heat Without Meat
Thai Coconut Bananas
Method: Direct Grilling
The caramel sauce can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead.
Category: Vegetarian
For the coconut-caramel sauce:
1/2-cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
8 apple bananas or 4 conventional bananas

Other Items Needed:
flat bamboo skewers

Coconut caramel version # 1:
Make the coconut-caramel sauce. Combine the palm sugar and coconut milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Briskly simmer the mixture until thick, golden, and very flavorful, about 5 minutes, whisking often. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Place the sauce in a deep bowl. The caramel sauce can be prepared ahead.

Coconut caramel version # 2:
Place the sugar in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar melts, turns golden brown, becomes very fragrant, and starts to smoke, 3 to 5 minutes. Swirl the pan so the sugar cooks evenly, but do not stir. Don't let it burn. As soon as the sugar browns, remove the pan from heat and add the coconut milk. Stand back-the mixture will hiss and sputter like Mount Vesuvius. Return the mixture to the heat and simmer, whisking until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Place the sauce in a deep bowl. The caramel sauce can be prepared ahead.

To finish grilling the bananas:
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Peel the bananas and skewer through one end (if desired). Grill until lightly browned and partially cooked, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Dip each banana in caramel sauce (that's where the skewer comes in handy) or brush the banana on all sides using a basting brush, and return it to the grill. Continue grilling until the banana is darkly browned and sizzling, another 1 to 3 minutes per side more. Transfer the bananas to a platter or bowls. Spoon the remaining sauce on top and serve at once.

Note: The bananas used for grilling in Thailand tend to be harder and starchier than their North American counterparts. So grill masters, use a two-step grilling processes, partially flattening the bananas with a heavy weight half way through. This helps them grill more evenly. To do this, transfer the bananas to a cutting board after the first 1 to 2 minutes grilling. Lightly flatten with a scalloppine pounder or the side of a heavy cleaver. Dip each banana in the coconut-caramel sauce (or brush on both sides with coconut-caramel sauce) and return to the grill. Continue grilling the bananas until golden brown and cooked through, another 1 to 3 minutes per side. (Use a bamboo skewer to test for doneness-it should easily pierce the banana.)

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