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?
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.
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 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).
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!