Ever since I learned to make Kluai Buat Chi (the spelling may vary, but it merely means banana in coconut milk) at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, it has become my go-to sweet fix. It takes no more than 15 minutes to make and requires only four simple ingredients. It's great for any time of the day, even in the morning for breakfast. Dessert for breakfast? Yes!
In Southeast Asia, meals are usually finished with fresh fruits, so the concept of desserts is a little different if it exists at all. Serving sweet dishes like this banana in coconut milk as a dessert at the end of a meal is common, but enjoyed as a snack between meals as well.
Since this reasonably healthy treat is so easy to make and I always have bananas and canned coconut milk on hand (I'm assuming sugar and salt are a given in any kitchen), it's not uncommon for me to whip it up at a moment's notice. This is especially true when the cravings for some tropical flavors are strong!
Cavendish bananas can most certainly be used, although the Thais like to make this with the dwarf Nam Wah bananas, also called lady finger bananas because of their shape, found at some Asian stores. Apart from the smaller size, the main difference is the texture, which is less starchy than the common supermarket bananas here with a smoother and denser bite.
The bananas in this sweet soup should be tender and spoonable, so it's important not to overcook them into mush. I find that the coconut milk is so pleasantly infused with the sweetness and aroma of the bananas that I don't usually add a lot of sugar, sometimes even none if I have it for breakfast, but please feel free to adjust according to your preference. The salt, however, is a must for me, which I think truly is the secret to melding all the flavors together yet at the same time giving the richness of the coconut milk a welcome punctuation.
This banana in coconut milk recipe is delicious just as it is but if you're feeling creative or want to make it more substantial, try topping it with seeds, nuts, cacao nibs, or even granola.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a gentle boil.
- Add the sliced bananas and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the banana pieces are tender but not falling apart, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add sugar and stir until it's fully dissolved. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm.