Did you know that in Thailand there are over 50 types of bananas? Did you know that they are native to South East Asia, and were brought to the rest of the world as early as 2,000 years ago?

Thai Bananas

Bananas are in season all year, and are one of the most popular fruits in Thailand. There are over 50 varieties of bananas grown in Thailand. Some are more common than others. The five varieties you’ll most likely see at the market are:

1. Gluay Naam Waa (not sure what the English translation is)
2. Gluay Hawm (Fragrant Banana)
3. Gluay Khai (Egg Banana)
4. Gluay Lep Muu Nang (Lady Finger Banana)
5. Gluay Hak Muk (not sure what the English translation is)

Each type of banana is used for different things. For instance, many street vendors sell grilled bananas outside of the peel. These are the Gluay Naam Waa variety. If you see it with the skin still on, and dark, that’s the Gluay Hak Muk variety.

Thai Bananas

Bananas are native to S.E. Asia. They were brought all over the world from Africa to the Caribbean, Europe, etc, by early traders. They are the world’s most popular fruit.

Thais don’t just eat the fruit, they also eat the flower of the banana tree, and use the leaves as packing, or to create a container to cook. The most famous dish made with banana leaves is ‘hor mok’, a fish curry which is steamed inside a cup made from banana leaf. In Thailand, when you are served Pad Thai, it will come with a piece of raw banana flower to eat along with. There are dishes made entirely from banana flower too.

Thai Bananas

Thai babies are fed mashed up banana as easy baby food. One of the first solid foods Thai babies will eat are bananas. Thais also make dried banana chips, sticky sweets, deep fried banana pieces, bananas in coconut milk.. You name it! There are hundreds of ways of preparing banana in Thailand.

Thais believe that bananas are very healthy for your body. They have medicinal properties which help with stomach problems and flu. Bananas also have a ton of vitamins.

There are many desserts which contain bananas: gluay buat chee (bananas in coconut milk), khao mao tod (bananas coated and fried), gluay kaak (deep fried & coated banana slices), khao tom mat sai gluay (sticky rice wrapped in leaves with bananas inside), khanom gluay (banana in flour & steamed), gluay ping (grilled banana slices), gluay tap (sweetend syrup grilled squished bananas), gluay khai chuam (bananas in syrup).

Thai Bananas

I never really liked bananas when I lived in the US. The large yellow banana that’s the most common there was too starchy and didn’t have that much flavor. Over here, however, I never pass them up!


4 thoughts on “Bananas

  1. Hi christine,
    The most familiar dish for the westerner that may include banana flower might be “Tom Kha Gai”. Some variations of the dish also add pieces of banana flower in it. But actually it’s used by the street food vendor to give the “mass” to the dish as it’s much cheaper than chicken, I sometimes have problem finding a piece of chicken in a bowl full of banana flower!!

    Another dish I know (but can’t give the exact recipe) is the banana flower salad “Yum Nokkhao”
    It’s in gredients are much like those of “Wing Bean Salad” except that no peanut nor roasted coconut is used, and the wing bean is substitute with banana flower (grilled or baked, discard the outer petal, use only the inner white pieces)

    That’s all I can tell, I’ii just leave the rest to cee, hehe 😛

  2. A Thai grocery store I go to here in Virginia sell grilled plantains which to me is almost identical to Gluay Hak Muk. It’s bigger but taste and texture is very similar.

    One type you didn’t mentioned if Gluay Taa Nee. You might have left it out on purpose since it’s not commonly sold in markets since it has a lot of big seeds and the tree itself is haunted with Nang Taa Nee ghost.. ^.^~~

  3. Your website is very interesting but I found the wrong name you put on the second picture we called Gluay Hug Mook not Gluay Naam Waa. Normally we don’t eat raw but grilled or cooked in syrup topping with coconut milk and it was so delicious.
    Here is recopies’ banana flower
    1 banana flower
    6 boiled shrimps
    1 tbs. dried shrimp grounded
    2 tbs. tamarind extract
    1 tbs. lime juice
    2 tbs. fish sauce
    1 tbs. palm sugar
    1 tbs. hot shrimp paste (Nam Prik Pow)
    2 tbs. Desiccated Coconut roasted
    2 tbs. coconut milk
    1 shallot thin slice (optional)
    1 tbs. fried shallot
    1 boiled hard egg
    Cilantro leaves to garnish

    1. Peel banana flower take of the red shell off to see white inside cut in to half by length then cross thin slice put in the water and add one table spoon of vinegar (to keep banana flower not turn to dark) soak for 15 min bring to boiled for 5 min drain and set a side.
    2. mixed all of tamarind extract, lime juice, palm sugar ,fish sauce and hot shrimp paste ,coconut milk then bring banana flower put in to the mixed liquid stir put shallot slice( if need)
    3. Put roasted coconut and quick stir put to plate spring with fried shallot put boiled egg cut in four and garnish with cilantro leave

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