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Thursday, July 1, 2010 10:02 pm

Grilled bananas with coconut-caramel sauce

Excerpted from Planet Barbecue! Copyright 2010 by Steven Raichlen. Photographs copyright 2009 by Ben Fink. Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York. All Rights Reserved.
Raichlen’s recipes come with provenance: stories of where they come from and how they got there. As often as not, those stories are as interesting and compelling as the recipes themselves. Here’s what he has to say about a Bangkok grill mistress, Saisuwan, and her specialty:

“Five years ago she scraped together enough cash to set up a pushcart….Her grilling skills became so legendary, guidebooks from all over the world sing her praises. Saisuwan serves just one dish – but what a dish – grilled bananas slathered with coconut caramel sauce. You can eat them for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert, and the moment you finish, you’ll very likely find yourself returning for seconds. If you happen to find yourself near the Sheraton hotel in Bangkok, you’ll recognize Saisuwan by her trademark white cap and by the sweet scent of bananas grilling over coconut shell charcoal.”

For the coconut-caramel sauce:

  • 1/2 c. palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 bananas, slightly under-ripe
Combine the sugar and coconut milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Let the mixture simmer briskly until it is thick, golden and very flavorful, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature. (This can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for a couple days ahead. Return to room temperature before using.)

Set up the grill for direct grilling (placing the bananas directly over the coals) and prepare/preheat a hot fire.

Brush and oil the grill grate. Peel the bananas and skewer them through on end if desired. Grill the bananas until they are lightly browned and partially cooked, 1-2 minutes per side. Dip the bananas in the coconut-caramel sauce (that’s where the skewer comes in handy) or brush the bananas on all sides, using a basting brush, and return them to the grill. Continue grilling the bananas until they are darkly browned and sizzling, 1-3 minutes longer per side. Use a bamboo skewer to test for doneness; it should easily pierce the banana. Transfer to plates or bowls. Spoon the remaining sauce on top and serve immediately. Serves 4
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