BANANA IN VIETNAM - THE QUINTESSENCE OF VIETNAMESE CUISINE

The image of banana trees in Vietnam has been associated with a long history and tradition here, it produces a delicious and nutritious fruit. Let's find out why bananas have become the brand and the must-try food when coming to Vietnam

Table Contents
  • I - Overview
  • 1 - The origin and habitat of Vietnam bananas
  • 2 - Classification
  • II - Uses of banana
  • 1 - Health - promoting food
  • 2 - Others uses of bananas in Vietnamese daily life 
  • III - Vietnamese dishes made from banana 
  • 1 - Banana cake and candy
  • 2 - Che Chuoi (Banana sweet dessert)
  • 3 - Banana wine Vietnam
  • 4 - Banana flower salad
Jan 21
Bananas in Vietnam title
Source: Vita Monica

Banana is a very popular cultivar in Vietnam. Not only its fruits but also its flowers, leaves, or even roots are all made use of by the locals. So what is the origin and habitat of the banana tree? How many types of banana are there? 

I - Overview

1 - The origin and habitat of Vietnam bananas

The banana tree, one of three genera in the family Musaceae, has the scientific name as Musa. It originated in Southeast Asia from the years 5000 BC. Bananas are easy to grow and can adapt well to tropical climates. Due to its hydrophilic feature, they are often planted next to ponds. They grow quite quickly, living in bushes - clusters do not live alone. Their stem is soft, their roots do not stick to the ground so it is usually knocked down when strong winds blow over.

2 - Classification

Banana trees in vietnam

Banana tree (Source: Felipe Vieira)

There various types of Vietnamese bananas and those listed below are the very prime examples:
Areca banana
The areca bananas have a small shape which is quite similar to fat arecas. When they ripe, their skin is bright yellow and smooth. Normally, the areca banana has a delicate fragrant, fine sweet taste that is not as harsh as a normal banana. Those banana trees are quite high-yielding, so it is highly preferred by farmers in the South and Central of Vietnam to grow.
Lady Finger banana
Lady Finger bananas' appearance is relatively similar to areca bananas, but when they ripe its pistils still stick on the fruits and the density per bunch is usually less. Lady Finger bananas are usually quite fragrant, sweet and delicious, therefore, they are often chosen to offer to the king in the old time.
Cavendish banana
This type of banana is very popular. It includes 2 smaller groups which are short and tall Cavendish bananas. Its fruits are shaped like a sickle. When they ripe, their skin turns from green to yellow. They also carry slight fragrant and have a moderate sweet taste. Cavendish banana can be used when it is still green or ripe to add flavor for dishes such as rolls, fish stock, boiled while the ripe one is for immediate Vietnam banana cake, consumption, smoothie, banana cream, ...
‘Huong’ banana
This type of banana is also classified into 2 types including green and white ones. It has a large shape but not as long as the Cavendish banana. When it ripes, it has a mild sweet taste and slightly acrid.
Balbisiana banana
Balbisiana bananas have a very acrid  taste, therefore, they are often used to soak banana wine Vietnam instead of immediate consumption, or making smoothie. Besides, they have white intestines with many large seeds which are extremely acrid.

- ‘Bom’ banana: This type of banana is mostly grown in the Southeast and often brings high yields. Normally, it is used for immediate consumption or drying with a very low price. Sometimes, it is also used as animal feed.
- ‘Ngop’ banana: The fruits of this type are relatively large and covered with thick skin. when they ripe, those skin turns dark brown. Besides, there are two smaller groups of them which are the tall and low one..
- Dwarf banana: Dwarf banana has a fat shape and soft sweet when ripe. This type is especially good for people who have problems with joints or diarrhea. ..
- Hairy banana: Offering a delicious taste when they ripe. More importantly, this type of banana is not as easy to be bruised as others, so it is popular for export to other countries.
- Laba banana: This is a speciality of Da Lat city in particular and Lam Dong province in general. Due to its delicious taste and sweetness, it was an offering fruit for the King in the past. It has an elongated and somewhat peaceable  shape, small stalk, and yellow color, mild aroma when it ripes..
- Cooking banana: This type of Vietnam bananas is widely grown in the western region. Its shape is usually quite large with a weight approximately from 0.5 to 1 kg and length from 35 to 40 cm for a bunch. Instead of immediately use, it is often steamed to increase the sweetness, softness and delicate aroma of this banana dish.
- ‘Gia Huong’ banana: Its shape is long, and curved. When it ripes, it turns green. Moreover, itn is such a nutritious fruit such providing several nutrients such as iron, sodium, calcium, vitamin, ...
- ‘Cau lua’ banana: When it ripes, its skin turns red or purple-red glowing like fire spots. This type has a delicate taste which is not too sweet. On the other hand, it contains many nutrients namely vitamins, minerals, and zinc.
Tips for using banana in Vietnam
- Do not eat banana when you are hungry 
- Do not eat bananas with yogurt, especially for those who have gastrointestinal problem
- Do not eat bananas with potatoes as this cause skin irritation 

- Do not eat bananas in the morning: there are substances in bananas that cause drowsiness, affecting work or concentration
- Do not eat bananas with watermelon for people with kidney failure

II - Uses of banana

1 - Health - promoting food

Vietnam banana processing

Banana processing (Source: Brenda Godinez)

Bananas are extremely good for our health. On the one hand, they contain a number of nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, Manganese, Carbs, Protein, or Fat. Especially bananas is a really low-carb fruit with only 105 calories and mostly composed of water with carbohydrates and protein. As a result, the fat content of bananas is minimal making them a popular fruit among dieters.
On the other hand, due to a study published by the Prilozi Department of Medical Sciences in 2017, green bananas provide a number of health benefits such as supporting control of gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and ulcers as well as reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Bananas also help control blood sugar levels, improve the digestion system and cardiovascular health,  promoting the weight loss process. They have a strong antioxidant that is extremely useful in fighting anemia, increasing insulin levels, and improving kidney health.

2 - Others uses of bananas in Vietnamese daily life 

According to local belief in Vietnam, not only the fruit of bananas are useful but so does other parts of them can also be used for many different purposes in life, such as:
Banana leaves: Banana leaf Vietnam used as a stopper for wine bottle, used to wrap traditional cakes such as hemp cakes, sticky rice cakes, used as fuel to cook
Banana stem: used as food for cattle, used to make a salad or as vegetables. In Vietnam, children also use banana stems as a support tool to practice swimming.
Banana chips: used to make salads, vegetables served with vermicelli, noodle, or pho
Banana root: used to make a Vietnamese dish
Banana fruit: 

- Ripe bananas: use for immediate consumption, making ice cream or smoothy, baking ...
- Green banana: used to cook sour soup, fish stock, served with noodle
- Banana Stripe: This is one of 5 indispensable fruits on the five-fruit tray used as an offering in the Tet holiday in Vietnam. It represents harmony, fullness, prosperity, and bond.

III - Vietnamese dishes made from banana 

Bananas in Vietnam are the main component of several popular dishes. In bananas there exist a lot of nutrients supplying energy for the body, therefore, they are highly preferred. From bananas, we can process many delicious sweet foods such as banana cake, baked banana, banana ice cream, banana candy, fried banana cake, grilled banana with onion...

1 - Banana cake and candy

- From those sweet and fragrant bananas, we can make a variety of kinds of cakes and candies that still retain their natural flavor such as steamed banana cake, baked banana cake, fried banana cake, banana candy, fried banana with sesame, grilled banana with onion, banana with cheese,...
- In addition, there are dried banana, banana spring rolls, banana sticky rice tea, banana jam, banana ice cream, banana chips and so on

2 - Che Chuoi (Banana sweet dessert)

Vietnamese banana sweet dessert

Banana sweet dessert (Source: Aneta Pawlik)

From bananas Vietnamese people can not only make cakes, candies or cooking dishes but also 'che' - a cooling sweet soup for the summer. 'Che chuoi' is a very special dish containing sticky rice, sweet fragrant banana, coconut milk combined with salt and sugar. From which, an impressive but also rustic dessert will be created.

3 - Banana wine Vietnam

Normally, the type of banana used to soak the wine is the balbisiana banana. After being soaked for an appropriate time, the wine will have a dark brown color and strong aroma. Banana wine can help to support the digestive system, treat back pain, improve sleep, improve kidney and diuretic ...

4 - Banana flower salad

Banana flowers are often used to make banana flower salad by the Vietnamese. With very simple and easy-to-find ingredients such as bean sprouts, roasted peanuts, carrots, lemons, garlic, chili, and herbs, you can immediately make for yourself a delicious and fresh banana flower salad.
Banana is a very popular cultivar which is widely grown in Vietnam because it is easy to grow and brings numerous economic benefits. In Vietnam, all parts of  banana from the leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits to the roots are completely made use of. As a result, bananas in Vietnam are very familiar to people, they are used every day and have very high applicability.

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