I can’t pinpoint precisely after I started making pancakes, however I’m nearly sure they had been the primary dish I tried to prepare dinner by myself. The identical method that pals of mine would learn comics after which decide up a pen, or take to the load room after watching the Longhorns fumble a title recreation, I’d chew a number of chunks of a buttermilk pancake from, say, this one diner by Houston’s Passion Airport and suppose, Rattling, wouldn’t or not it’s wild if this had been one thing I may do? Typically, on lazy Saturdays, my household would seize brief stacks on the Cracker Barrel simply past Houston’s metropolis limits. In highschool, my pals and I might huddle round tables at IHOP on weekend nights. And the behavior endured years later, after I’d sit at one Houston diner or one other, in a state of disrepair after an evening out, and a stack of flapjacks would appear to be the one treatment.
At residence, I began with Aunt Jemima, as a result of it was low cost and scrumptious and practically all the time readily available; however, over time, progressively, I branched out throughout cuisines, all of them unified by the easy methodology of frying batter in a pan (the world is, frankly, a really small place). One yr, my cooking consisted largely of scallion pancakes—rolled throughout my tiny countertop and dunked in a makeshift combination of soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, and honey—as a result of it was what I may afford on the time. Then got here a Swedish-pancake infatuation, adopted by a dalliance with kimchi pancakes. Final winter, each week, I fried batches of hotteok—Korean pancakes with a candy, nut-laden filling—sneaking them into film theatres to munch on, freezing the extras for lazy afternoons. And, within the spring, typically a number of days per week, my boyfriend and I made okonomiyaki—Japanese cabbage pancakes topped with pork stomach and sprinkled with the bonito flakes from Kuromon Market that I’d been rationing out over a number of seasons.
Pancakes have been a boon to me this previous yr, particularly, as I’ve shifted my residence cooking to maximise each haul from the grocery retailer. At the very least twice per week, one thing—something—in my fridge will get pancaked: a small stack of buttermilk hotcakes makes a stable breakfast in the future, and an eggy veggie pancake suffices for the following, adopted by a billowing Dutch child, or a crisp disk of pajeon for a wet night. The components—one thing moist, one thing dry, a fast sojourn in some oil—will take you so far as you’d wish to go. You would possibly learn the recipe carefully the primary time round, however quickly you’ll start to really feel it out by yourself. You’ll hear the perimeters crisp. Your nostril will begin to acknowledge the scent of a completed product. Flipping your good pancake will begin to appear extra instinctual than realized, and also you’ll—finally, essentially—make peace with the truth that the primary one within the batch actually is all the time the worst.
After I consider a batter-in-a-frying-pan meal that brings maximal pleasure, now as ever, what involves thoughts is my mother’s banana fritters. They’re my lodestar, topped with just a little little bit of powdered sugar and a splash of condensed milk, from a can that’s doubtless been lengthy forgotten underneath the kitchen counter, solely to show clutch on the final minute, instantaneously miracle-worthy. The recipe’s a staple amongst Jamaican households, and, in the event you’re even a semi-regular baker, you doubtless have already got readily available all of the substances you’ll want for a batch. In Enid Donaldson’s “The Actual Style of Jamaica,” she writes, with solely modest exaggeration, that “in the event you can rely to 1, you’ll keep in mind the substances for these banana fritters.”
Not too way back, I referred to as my mother to bug her about it. After we took inventory of the nation’s declining state, in our ordinary method (in her metropolis, protests over extrajudicial state violence in opposition to Black of us had been ongoing; in mine, the confirmed circumstances of COVID-19 had been multiplying, whereas greater than a handful of locals had been behaving as if there’d by no means been a pandemic), I requested her, a bit tentatively—as a result of a recipe is a valuable factor—about her banana-fritter methodology. She gave it to me in bits and items: be certain that the bananas are simply ripe sufficient (“Be sure you decide the fitting ones”) earlier than mashing them with a fork; sift a little bit of flour and stir a crushed egg into the batter (“Don’t overbeat it”); add some spices and a pinch of baking powder (“Together with your fingers”), except you don’t have any (“You possibly can skip that if you wish to. Use what you’ve; simply keep residence”).
I ought to be aware that the distinction between a pancake and a fritter had by no means a lot occurred to me earlier than scripting this, maybe as a result of banana fritters blur the strains. Technically, a pancake is outlined by batter; a fritter is outlined by what’s dipped into batter, whether or not greens or fruits or leftover meats. A pancake is usually griddled with only a bit of fats (your butter, your lard, your oil, no matter); a fritter is correctly fried (extra tempura than pancake, kakiage being a cardinal instance). My mom’s banana fritters contain no dipping—the mashed banana will get integrated into the batter, simply as it could for banana bread. These are spherical and flat, like pancakes (although smaller—about as extensive as a tiny tea coaster), and so they get fried up like a fritter. On the finish of the day, when your steaming bounty is piled excessive, deliciousness is the frequent denominator. A banana fritter, like a pancake, riffs on a melody that couldn’t be less complicated, and cooking these, after some time, actually is as simple as counting to 1.
Makes about 8 fritters
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. floor cinnamon
- ½ tsp. floor nutmeg
- A pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, frivolously crushed
- About ½ cup impartial oil, for frying
- Confectioner’s sugar (non-obligatory), for serving
- Condensed milk (non-obligatory), for serving
1. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash banana and sugar till the combination varieties a thick, goopy paste.
2. Add vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, stirring to mix.
3. Sift flour into the banana combination, stirring simply till mixed.
4. Add crushed egg to the banana combination, stirring till completely mixed.
5. Set a big frying pan over medium-high warmth and add sufficient oil to thinly coat the underside. (Flick some batter into the pan; if it sizzles, the oil is scorching sufficient.)
6. Working in batches, add batter by the heaping spoonful, a number of at a time, taking care to not crowd the pan.
7. Cook dinner till the perimeters of your fritters begin to bubble, about 3 minutes. Flip and prepare dinner for one more 2 minutes or so. Don’t flatten them.
8. Place completed fritters on a plate lined with paper towels. Cowl them with a kitchen towel to maintain them heat.
9. To serve, mud fritters with confectioner’s sugar and drizzle with condensed milk, in the event you like.