Singapore Tea-time Snack – Jemput Jemput

Banana – a ubiquitous fruit which is eaten on the go, in smoothies; as ice cream, muffins, cakes, flans; also battered and deep fried. In South East Asia, we also eat them like doughnut holes. They taste much better than doughnut holes though…the intensity of the fresh banana flavour and the squishing moist bits of banana in between goes best with a cuppa.  I have always known them as Jemput Jemput but this small tasty morsel is known by many other different names, depending on which South East Asia country you are.

There are several varieties of bananas available locally but when you are thinking of cooking with them, the only variety to purchase is Pisang Rajah ( literal translation being the king banana). Each banana is about 10 to 15 cm long, have a thicker skin and is slightly angular in shape. I have not seen them an sale at supermarkets here. If you are living in Singapore, head out to wet markets like Tekka, Farrer or Whampoa. Pisang Rajah cost about 15% more than other banana varieties. They are ready for cooking when their skin show black blotches (photo below), indicating that they are fully ripe. In our tropical heat, I usually leave them for about 3 days on the kitchen counter.

Here’s a fun fact.

This recipe will enable you to achieve a lighter, flavourful Jemput Jemput filled with little moist chunks of fully ripened bananas. A cross section of one of them is shown below.

Comments about some of the Ingredients

You will need over-ripe bananas, one egg, plain flour, rice flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and table salt.

  • Pisang Rajah. Pisang Mas or the Del Monte bananas are possible substitutes but they must be over-ripe to give a more intense flavour.
  • Plain Flour. I have not tried making a gluten free Jemput Jemput. Some recipes use tapioca flour but I find the result is heavy and sticky.
  • Rice Flour. My recipe does not have the proportions for glutinous rice flour which is much more starchy and gives a different texture.

Making the Dough

STEP 1. DRY INGREDIENTS. In a medium bowl, measure and add in all the sugar, plain flour, rice flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir with a whisk to mix all dry ingredients well. Set aside.

STEP 2. WET INGREDIENTS. Peel over-ripe bananas. In another medium bowl, mash the peeled bananas except one, using a large fork or a potato masher. Add in the lightly beaten egg. Use a knife to cut the other peeled banana into chunks and add to the bowl of mashed bananas and egg. Fold gently as ripe bananas mash easily.

HINT: Before combining the ingredients to make the dough, heat 5 to 6 cm deep of cooking oil in a saucepan over medium heat. This ensures that the oil reaches the correct temperature when dough is mixed.

STEP 3.  Gently fold the Dry ingredients into the Wet ingredients. Do not over mix to prevent the chunks of banana from becoming mash. The dough will be sticky but a dropping consistency. If your dough is thick and stiff, add in more chopped bananas.

Deep Frying Dough

STEP 4. Test the heated oil in the saucepan. Place a wooden chopstick into the oil. Small bubbles should quickly form around that end that is in the hot oil. Be observant and be ready to adjust heat during the deep frying process. Oil should not be too hot either and definitely oil should not be smoking.

HINT: Doughnuts are fried at higher temperatures. This dough contains sugar, glucose and fructose from the mashed bananas.

STEP 5. Set up your drainer/rack by lining it with paper towels.

STEP 6. Drop dessertspoonfuls of dough into hot oil. Fry till it shows a golden brown edge, flip and continue to fry the other side. Take fried dough out when it is about the colour as shown in the photo as they darken considerably as they cool. Do not over crowd the oil. In a large saucepan, you can fry 4 to 6 each time.

HINT. Take note of the little dark bits in the old. Use a metal spoon or spatula to loosen them before adding more dough to fry.

RECIPE

Makes about 17 to 19 dessert spoon size pieces

Ingredients

6 to 8 pisang rajah (over ripe), peel and mash. The actual number very much depends on the size of your bananas.

1 pisang rajah, peel and cut into small chunks.

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

Dry Ingredients

  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 3 tbsps of fine grain white sugar

METHOD

1. DRY INGREDIENTS. In a medium bowl, measure and add in all the sugar, plain flour, rice flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir with a whisk to mix all dry ingredients well. Set aside.

2. WET INGREDIENTS. Peel over-ripe bananas. In another medium bowl, mash 4/6 of the 6/8 peeled bananas, using a large fork or a potato masher. Gently fold in the lightly beaten egg. Add the chunky bits of banana to the bowl of mashed bananas and egg. Mix lightly.

HINT: Before combining the ingredients to make the dough, heat 5 to 6 cm deep of cooking oil in a saucepan over medium heat. This ensures that the oil reaches the correct temperature when dough is mixed.

3.  Gently fold the Dry ingredients into the Wet ingredients. Do not over mix to prevent the chunks of banana from becoming mash. The dough will be sticky but a dropping consistency. If your dough is thick and stiff, add in more chopped bananas.

4. Test the heated oil in the saucepan. Place a wooden chopstick into the oil. Small bubbles should quickly form around that end that is in the hot oil. Be observant and be ready to adjust heat during the deep frying process. Oil should not be too hot either and definitely oil should not be smoking.

HINT: Doughnuts are fried at higher temperatures. This dough contains sugar, glucose and fructose from the mashed bananas.

5. Set up your drainer/rack by lining it with paper towels.

6. Drop dessertspoonfuls of dough into hot oil. Fry till it shows a golden brown edge, flip and continue to fry the other side. Take fried dough out when it is about the colour as shown in the photo as they darken considerably as they cool. Do not over crowd the oil. In a large saucepan, you can fry 4 to 6 each time.

HINT. Take note of the little dark bits in the old. Use a metal spoon or spatula to loosen them before adding more dough to fry.

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2 responses to “Singapore Tea-time Snack – Jemput Jemput

  1. Thank you Li, I have not made jemput jemput in years. Yours looks terrific, I look forward to trying this out!

    Linda

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