Categorized | Fish, Vegetarian

A traditional Trinbago “country” dish with baby bananas.

banana cooked with salted fish caribbean recipe

I’m sure you’ve seen those tiny little bananas in the supermarket… normally called “baby bananas”. But have you ever given much thought as to what people do with these cute little bananas that look like they forgot to grow up? They’re quite tasty when fully ripe and can be enjoyed just as you would a normal banana, but did you know you can also cook them? Growing up in the country-side on the islands, our diet at times would be considered very rustic by some standards. Especially when you consider the amount of ground provisions that would make it on our dinner table. To this day my sisters don’t fancy anything we’d term “ground provisions” (yam, cassava, green banana, eddoes, dasheen.. etc), but my brother and myself are just like my dad.. we can’t get enough.

Back to the “little people” of the banana world. One of the dishes my mom would prepare using these baby bananas, is a quick boil and fry. Today I got a craving for this dish I grew up on as I strolled the aisle of the supermarket and saw these bananas in stock. Bear in mind that this is entirely from memory, as my mom was en route to New York to visit my brother so I couldn’t do the normal phone call when I need help with a recipe.

I truly hope this is not one of those dishes that’s slowly fading away from the framework that makes up our rich culinary heritage, as we make way for the fast food generation. This is very simple to prepare, hearty and amazingly tasty!

You’ll Need…

1-2 lbs of baby bananas
1 medium onion sliced
pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon olive oil
couple slices of hot pepper (I used scotch bonnet) – optional
1 clove garlic crushed
4 oz dry salted fish (I used boneless Pollock)
1 scallion (garnish)

Couple tips before we start.

1. Try to use the bananas before they go ripe (bright yellow), the ideal colour is a greenish yellow and they must be a bit firm if you were to press on them gently. If they’re over-ripe it will be difficult to work with and will not produce the same type of texture we’re hoping to achieve.

2. You can cook the bananas in advance and even place it in the fridge, so they’re cool to the touch when you have to peel them.

Separate the bananas into singles if they came in a bunch, place in a deep pan and cover with water. Put on a medium to high heat and bring to a boil. Pay close attention to this as you must turn off the stove as soon as it comes to a boil or you’ll risk it going too mushy. Remove from the hot water immediately and allow to cool. When cool, peel away the skin so you’re left with the creamy insides of the banana. You’ll notice a couple things happening as the bananas cook… they will change colour (go black in some spots) and they will split. When they split, it’s a good indication that they’re ready to be removed from the boiling water.

banana cooked with salted fish caribbean recipe

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While this cools, put the dry salted fish in a fairly deep bowl and pour in enough boiling water to cover it. This will do a couple things for us. It will make the fish more tender to work with and it will remove most of the salt which was used to preserve it. When the water cools (as we did when we made saltfish buljol) squeeze away any remaining water and shred into flakes.

Back to the bananas…they should be cool now, using the “split” that occurred during the quick boiling process as a starting point peel back and remove the skin, then place a bowl and get ready for putting everything together.

In a pan on medium heat pour in the olive oil, then when it’s hot add the flakes of shredded salt fish. Allow this to cook for about 4 minutes so the oil gets infused with the flavour of the saltfish. Then add the sliced onions, crushed garlic, black pepper and if you opt for it.. the slices of hot pepper. This should cook for about 4-6 minutes or until the onion has gone soft and started to go brown. Now add the cooked bananas and tablespoon of butter,. Gently stir everything around and allow to cook on low heat (uncovered) for about 3-5 minutes (when you think it’s been coated with everything in the pot.

* The bananas I used were a bit too ripe (see in pictures).

* If you don’t like saltfish (we can’t be friends then) or prefer not to have it in your diet, feel free to leave it out. It’s still a very tasty dish. However I would recommend using a non-stick pan in that case and allow it to cook a bit longer to encourage the heat to interact with the sugars in the banana and form a nice caramel crust on everything.

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The big question of the night is… What do they call these tiny little bananas, besides baby bananas? Now my spelling may be completely wrong as I’m trying to wor it out… “chikito“. You don’t think that the Chikita” brand of bananas got their company name from this little banana, do you?

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55 Responses to “A traditional Trinbago “country” dish with baby bananas.”

  1. Sylvia Charles Dolcy says:

    Hi there …..in barbados we just call them figs, and we eat them ripe….they are oh so sweet . Thank you for this new dish…I will certainly try it out.

  2. angelina says:

    Antiguans call them ‘finger rose’ or ‘finger rolls’ perhaps because they are the size of a finger. I never knew they could be cooked, as we only eat them as we do ripe bananas. I will certainly try this recipe, thanks.

  3. Hylton Fernandes says:

    In Guyana, they are known as Fig Banana, they are also a rust coloured Banana that are called Buck Banana. Great recipe Chris, I have to try your recipe!

  4. Wow, that’s what I was looking for, what a data!
    existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this web site.

  5. Carolyn W says:

    In Montserrat we call them Sick-ree — I don't know the correct spelling.

  6. Pat G says:

    I'm wondering if those are "apple" bananas or "fig" bananas. Both are small; "figs" are smaller than "apples" and sweeter too. They almost look like "apples" because they're so nice and fat and if I remember correctly the "figs" weren't quite so fat. At least that is what we used to call them in Guyana. I have seen both varieties in specialty grocery shops here on the West Coast, suburbs of Vancouver, but rarely. I've never known any scientific name for them.

  7. Ray says:

    So where can I buy a plant and what name do i ask for in the US

  8. Deb says:

    I tried this recipe and its awesome…taste great and it's a quick dish on the go :)

  9. triniwife says:

    funny, chikito bananas are not my husband's fave type and i never knew you could do this with them. we boil plantain and put it in soup, or boil it to make with saltfish (yummy!) but now i can tell him we need to do this with them too! we have plantain and bananas growing out back and i'm going to tell him to get a chikito sucker or two as well! thanks for the recipe!

  10. Izarah says:

    In St. Croix we call them Bah-Ko-Bah … we usually eat them ripe…not any more, since you thought me this new recipe! Thanks so much… by the way I can't imagine buying them I have to give mine away sometimes and freeze them too.

  11. jinsette says:

    Correction, sorry the bananas themselves are called turn fig – just before they actually get too ripe and are then boiled in the skins and eaten with the salt fish separately.

  12. jinsette says:

    These "sikki yay" (our pronunciation in T&T) figs are used in a slightly different recipe here called "tun fig" or turned fig. This is dying out here now though, the younger ones have never heard of it, but much thanks for your version with the salt fish. My father-in-law will absolutely love it, will make it especially for him as soon as I can

    • Son of Mayo village says:

      That's the name of this fig as I know it – sikki yey. Interesting Sucrier – french for sugar. I guess it is the Trini creole. When it turns reddish yellow with black spots it is sweet like sugar. Trini culture is soooo rich

  13. indrani says:

    My grandmother and mother used to make this all the time. I haven't tried it with the saltfish though. We called the dish boil and fry [sikcare fig] Don't know how to spell the name of fig.

    • marcy says:

      The banana is also called sucrier fig (which is what i think you are trying to spell) in T&T (french for sugar) and is different from Silk fig which is sour in the centre

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