Banana Lumpia with Coconut Caramel Sauce

Banana lumpia is a sweet dessert spring roll that was brought to Hawaii by Filipino immigrants. It is another thread in the culinary fabric of local Hawaii cuisine - a blending of so many different cultures that developed back in the day on the plantations. It only takes a few simple ingredients to create this tasty dessert. But it is taken to the next level by adding a decadent tropical coconut caramel dipping sauce.

Banana lumpia with coconut caramel sauce

What is banana lumpia?

Banana lumpia is also known as turon in the Philippines. It is sold by street vendors and contains a filling of bananas and jackfruit. The fruit are coated in sugar then rolled in a thin wrapper and fried until crunchy and golden. It is served with a crunchy caramel coating.

In Hawaii it is more common to find this sweet made only with bananas and it is often served simply on its own or with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Banana lumpia with caramel sauce

What type of banana is used?

In the Philippines, the saba banana is typically used - a variety that is a more similar to a plantain. In Hawaii we use apple bananas - a smaller banana that is known for its sweetness and light tanginess. If you are able to find either of these bananas, that's great, but the common Cavendish banana found in most grocery stores will do just fine.

Types of bananas
Apple bananas (left), supermarket Cavendish bananas (right)

Gilding the lily

You can eat the lumpia once they're fried, with no other embellishment. But, to take these lumpia to the next level, I serve them with a coconut milk caramel dipping sauce. While it is common to use coconut milk to create vegan whipped cream or caramel sauces, this was not my intent. I wanted to create a dipping sauce that carried the tropical theme.

When traditional turon is made, sugar is sprinkled over the hot oil before frying the uncooked rolls. The sugar caramelizes and adheres to the rolls as they fry. While I was intrigued by the method, it also sounded a little too dangerous for me. A dipping sauce seemed much safer and this coconut caramel sauce is delicious enough to eat on its own.

Banana lumpia drizzled with caramel sauce

Storing, re-heating, freezing

Banana lumpia are best eaten soon after they are fried. Part of the joy of eating banana lumpia is the crunch when you first bite into one. The longer they sit, the softer and soggier they will get.

You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat the lumpia in a toaster oven or an air fryer but not in the microwave.

If you are making a large batch, you can freeze the lumpia before you fry them. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the lumpia in a single layer, not touching. Place the pan in the freezer until the lumpia are frozen through then transfer to a zip top bag for storage.