All About…Plantains!

Not Bananas

What is it?

So, yes, technically a fruit, plantains are more often categoried as a vegetable as in many countries it is prepared more like a vegetable than a fruit. They’re not eaten raw, but cooked; boiled, baked, or fried, much as you would prepare potatoes. In spite of looking like bananas, they’re flavor is more similar to potatoes.

photo courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Got it. How do I know when it’s ripe?

Unlike a banana, the plantain is ripe when the peel has turned yellow and you do start to see black spots. It should be slightly firm to the touch, like a peach. A completely black plantain is still edible, though the flesh is a bit too soft at this point for cooking. Store them on the counter, at room temperature. More than likely, you’ll get green plantains. Just give them time to come to to your desired level of ripeness. The more yellow they are, the more starchy. The riper they are, the sweeter.

What do I do with it?

Frying them is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare plantains.

Tostones
Or, “fried plantain chips.” These are best prepared with green, not-quite-yellow-yet plantains, that are more starchy. The secret to crispy, delicious tostones is to fry ’em twice.

• 3 green plantains
• 1-2 cups vegetable oil
• sea salt to taste

Peel the plantains by making a vertical cut through the skin and peeling it back with your hands.

Slice the plantains into 1-inch thick rounds
→ You sometimes see them sliced on the diagonal. Slicing on the diagonal gives more surface space to fry a thinner slice. Can totally slice it that way, if that is your prefernce.

Heat a layer of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Fry the plantains in batches. When the plantains are starting to turn light golden brown, remove from the oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Smash each piece with the back of a wooden spoon – this gives you a flatter shape with rougher edges. Continue to fry remaining raw plantains.

Now, return those smashed plantains to the frying pan for another round. Fry for an additional 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer back to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

Other great ideas

Chifles
→ thin, crispy chips, perfect for dipping – make them for your Super Bowl Party!

Plantain Empanadas
→ made with plantains, not flour, this is a good gluten-free alternative.

Loaded Baked Plantains
→ ooops, plantains gone too ripe? That’s when they are soft and sweet. Make dessert!

Are you inspired? Share your plantain dishes with us on our Facebook page.

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