Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice (without Banana Leaves)

In CNN Food Challenge: Dessert favorites from around the world, Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice (Chuoi Nep Nuong in Vietnamese) is listed as one of must-try desserts. It’s common in the South of Vietnam, and the first time I ate it was when I was a freshman, moving to Ho Chi Minh City for studying. Usually sold by small street vendors, the aroma of grilled sticky rice and banana leaf is so attractive spreading out on the street! Now living far away from home, my only choice to get a grilled banana is to make it by myself. For convenience, in this recipe, I substitute parchment paper for banana leaves, and use a cast iron pan to grill. Although lacking the smell of grilled banana leaves, overall, the taste and texture of Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice is still wonderful.

grilled banana in sticky rice

Ingredients

Like many other Vietnamese desserts such as Sweet Potato Dessert, Black Bean Dessert, Banh Com or Fried Banana, the ingredients for Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice are basic and simple, but the essence lies in the way of processing the dishes. All you need are sticky rice and banana for the roll, and coconut milk, peanut and white sesame (optional) for the garnish.

For banana, small bananas like lady finger or pisang bananas are the best choice because they are suitable for being wrapped in sticky rice, and the texture after grilling is still firm. However, popular cavendish bananas are not an appropriate choice for this dish. They are quite big, slightly curved so hard to wrap in sticky rice. After grilling, they tend to become too soft, even mushy.

grilled banana in sticky rice
Lady finger banana (baby banana)

Besides, I recommend using banana leaves to wrap the roll for grilling, as the smell of grilled banana leaves is so interesting. However, in case you couldn’t find banana leaves, or you don’t have time to look for it in the nearby Asian stores, you can completely make the dish without it. The disadvantage is the roll loses the impressive smell, but the advantage is that you can save your time and a bit of money as well. To replace banana leaves, parchment paper can work very well.

How to Grill Vietnamese Banana in Sticky Rice At Home

I would like to share a bit more about grills. To make Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice, we should have a grill, either electric or charcoal. However, I didn’t have one, so I and my husband tried grilling it in a Dutch oven. We used it because its material is cast iron, an alloy of iron (95%) and carbon (2-4%). Cast iron is known for its superior heat retention and distribution, like an electric grill. Not only deep-frying, stewing, or making bread, a cast iron pan can also work well with grilling. You can use any of cast iron cookware to grill.

grilled banana in sticky rice
Grilling in Cast Iron Pan

Another simpler method is using a regular non-sticky pan. Although it’s not as good as a cast iron pan, it’s still able to make our sticky rice be grilled nicely.

Therefore, you don’t need a charcoal or electric grill to make this dessert; a cast iron pan or even a non-sticky pan can replace. Banana leaves don’t matter as well, just use some pieces of parchment paper. Let’s make it.

Instruction

Step 1. Cooking sticky rice

  • You can cook sticky in rice cooker, instant pot, or steam it. The quickest method is cooking it in rice cooker or instant pot (20-25 minutes), and the best method is steaming (usually 45 minutes). Refer how to cook sticky rice here.
How to cook sticky rice in rice cooker

Step 2. Wrapping banana in sticky rice

  • Once the cooked sticky rice is cooled down, on a clean surface, spread out a layer of plastic wrap. It’s to prevent sticking and shape the roll more easily. Add a suitable amount of sticky rice depend on your banana’s size and press it into a 3-5 mm layer.  The width of the sticky rice layer should be wider than the length of the banana (see the image below). Peel a banana gently and place it on the sticky rice layer.
grilled banana in sticky rice
  • With plastic wrap, start rolling the sticky rice layer around the banana. Hang tight and adjust the sticky rice layer until it covers the banana completely.
  • Then, prepare a parchment paper/banana leaf which fit with the banana’s size. Place it on the surface, then the banana (in plastic wrap) on. Gently remove plastic wrap and transfer the banana in sticky rice to the paper/leaf. Cover it all.
grilled banana in sticky rice

Step 3. Grilling

  • You can use a charcoal or electric grill (ideal), a cast iron cookware (2nd ideal), or a non-sticky pan (3rd ideal) to grill the rolls. Heat it up on medium heat and place the rolls in. Once you see the rolls turn slightly golden-brown (if using parchment paper), or the banana leaves are burnt, flip to the other sides until all blackened. The rice should be golden-brown and crunchy.
grilled banana in sticky rice

Step 4. Making coconut sauce

  • In a pot, mix 1/2 tsp tapioca starch and 3 tsp water together. Then, add 120ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1 pinch of salt in. Cook on medium heat until boiling or microwave in 1 minute.
  • Roast peanut and white sesame, then slightly crush them.
coconut sauce for grilled banana in sticky rice

Step 5. Serving

  • To serve Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice, cut a roll into several pieces. Pour coconut sauce on, and garnish with roasted peanut and sesame.
  • Serve it hot for the best taste and crunchiness.
grilled banana in sticky rice

Enjoy this tasty dessert and tell me how you feel!

grilled banana in sticky rice

Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice (without Banana Leaves)

Yield: 6 rolls
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Although lacking the smell of grilled banana leaves, the taste and texture of Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice is still wonderful

Ingredients

Banana rolls

  • 6 baby banana (lady finger/pisang bananas)
  • 1 cup sticky rice

Coconut sauce

Peanut & White Sesame

Instructions

Step 1. Cooking sticky rice

  • You can cook sticky in rice cooker, instant pot, or steam it. The quickest method is cooking it in rice cooker or instant pot (20-25 minutes), and the best method is steaming (usually 45 minutes). Refer how to cook sticky rice here.How to cook sticky rice in rice cooker

Step 2. Wrapping banana in sticky rice

  • Once the cooked sticky rice is cooled down, on a clean surface, spread out a layer of plastic wrap. It’s to prevent sticking and shape the roll more easily. Add a suitable amount of sticky rice depend on your banana’s size and press it into a 3-5 mm layer.  The width of the sticky rice layer should be wider than the length of the banana (see the image below). Peel a banana gently and place it on the sticky rice layer.grilled banana in sticky rice
  • With plastic wrap, start rolling the sticky rice layer around the banana. Hang tight and adjust the sticky rice layer until it covers the banana completely. Then, prepare a parchment paper/banana leaf which fit with the banana’s size. Place it on the surface, then the banana (in plastic wrap) on. Gently remove plastic wrap and transfer the banana in sticky rice to the paper/leaf. Cover it all.grilled banana in sticky rice

Step 3. Grilling

  • You can use a charcoal or electric grill (ideal), a cast iron cookware (2nd ideal), or a non-sticky pan (3rd ideal) to grill the rolls. Heat it up on medium heat and place the rolls in. Once you see the rolls turn slightly golden-brown (if using parchment paper), or the banana leaves are burnt, flip to the other sides until all blackened. The rice should be golden-brown and crunchy.grilled banana in sticky rice

Step 4. Making coconut sauce

  • In a pot, mix 1/2 tsp tapioca starch and 3 tsp water together. Then, add 120ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1 pinch of salt in. Cook on medium heat or microwave until boiling. coconut sauce for grilled banana in sticky rice
  • Roast peanut and white sesame, then slightly crush them.roast sesame

Step 5. Serving

  • To serve Vietnamese Grilled Banana in Sticky Rice, cut a roll into several pieces. Pour coconut sauce on, and garnish with roasted peanut and sesame. Serve it hot for the best taste and crunchiness.grilled banana in sticky rice
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160

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