Filipinos have quite an array of native merienda fares, and maruya happens to be one of the all-time favorites. It’s saba bananas sliced thinly, dipped in batter and deep-fried in hot oil until golden crisp. The crunch of the batter and the softness and sweetness of the bananas complement each other.
Over in the Province of Quezon, the townsfolks have their own version of maruya, which they call bikang-bikang. It’s basically the same, except that it makes use of very raw saba bananas instead of ripe ones and the bananas are cut into fingers and not into flat, thin slices. I recently got “acquainted” with bikang-bikang when my sister-in-law Lanie Zulueta-Marquez cooked bikang-bikang for merienda. She had learned it from her friend Vangie Inukai, who hails from Mauban, Quezon, and who often cooked bikang-bikang for her kids’ merienda.
How do you prepare Quezon’s version of maruya? Here’s how:
5 pcs. raw saba bananas
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
5 Tbsps. sugar
pinch of egg yellow food color
oil for frying
1. Slice saba bananas into fingers. If using big bananas, cut each into 6 fingers. If using small bananas, cut each into 4 fingers.
2. Make the batter. Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and food color. Add just enough water to make a lightly thick batter. Mix well.
3. Pour banana fingers into the batter.
4. Heat oil for frying in a wok or saucepan.
5. Put a few battered pieces of bananas side by side in the hot oil. Cook until golden. Invert and cook the other side until done.
6. Remove and drain off excess oil on paper towel.