I believe it was sometime during college that I first got to experience going to one of those Japanese restaurants where the chef makes a big show while cooking in front of you.
If you’ve never been, I recommend it. It’s nice to be entertained and fed at the same time.
One of the tricks they inevitably do is to stack the rings of an onion up to resemble a volcano, dump in some flammable cooking liquid, and then light it on fire. The result is an inferno that shoots straight up for a moment, and it’s a big crowd pleaser.
I’ve always been fascinated by recipes that let chefs light things on fire. It’s just the right amount of danger I need in my life—a very, very low amount—and it satisfies my inner desire to safely play with matches every once in awhile.
So, since I still needed to get rid of lots of bananas this week, I decided to try my hand at one of those fire-lighting recipes: bananas foster.
I will warn you that bananas foster includes the use of alcohol, which you can totally leave out if it’s not your thing, but then you’ll also skip the fire lighting step, too. The recipe I used is on the blog “Baking a Moment.” You can find the original post at https://bakingamoment.com/bananas-foster/. I doubled the cinnamon in my version.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 bananas
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- vanilla ice cream for serving
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large skillet (you’ll need to fit the bananas in there later, too) over low heat.
- As the butter melts, keep whisking the ingredients together until they’re smooth and fully combined.
- Slice the peeled bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise to get four equal pieces out of each banana.
- Add the bananas to the sauce and gently stir to coat them in the sugar mixture.
- Let them cook for about five minutes or until the bananas are fully warmed through.
- Now, you could skip this next step and go straight to the ice cream, but I highly recommend doing it.
- Remove the bananas from the heat, and drizzle the rum over the top. Using a long match or a wand lighter, light the surface of the liquid on fire (you’ll barely be able to see a flame, and you’ll be able to hear a soft whooshing noise). Let the fire burn until it burns itself out.
- Serve the bananas over scoops of vanilla ice cream, making sure to drizzle the sugar mixture over top, too.
- Refrigerate any leftovers to reheat and use later on.
This was nice and warm and perfect for a cold evening while still getting to enjoy a little ice cream. If you’re not a big fan of the taste of rum, what I would describe as the “alcohol taste” burns off, so it really just adds some depth of flavor. It doesn’t taste like you’re taking a shot of liquor.
And, if you have no use for a full bottle of dark rum, I’d recommend buying one of those mini bottles like you’d see in a hotel bar. They are generally about 50 milliliters, and since 1/4 cup is about 59 milliliters, you could get away with just using one little bottle and not have to deal with leftovers. Plus, they’re often about $1, so that’s a pretty cheap, quick investment for a delicious dessert.
Also, in my case, bananas foster gives you a chance to light something on fire, if just for a moment, and that’s just the kind of excitement I need in my life these days.
This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 22, 2020.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.