I am way behind schedule on this post, so I apologize to all those I told to come back sometime on Monday to check out today’s post on PLANTAINS! I decided to DRIVE home to DC for a much needed break and lots of cookin’ in mi madre’s kitchen.
Oh yeah, and a week long photo shoot for the book! Man, talk about work. After 10 hours stuck in my car, Geisha and I just wanted to plop down on what ever was soft as soon as we arrived. Instead, I made a bee line for the cocina and had carne ripiada or ropa vieja with black beans and rice. I had called my mom 40 minutes before I arrived and asked her to please, please have some food ready. Burger King’s crispy and spicy chicken sandwich at 9 am did really mean things to me 10 minutes later. I will spare you.
After I took all of 5 minutes to eat, I was exhausted and would have preferred to pack the calories and carbs on my Beyoncè thick thighs by taking a nap, but I promised to do this…so here I am. Midnight, hungry again, tired and really wanting some chocolate.
Many of you left comments wanting recipes for either tostones and maduros, both which are eaten ALL the time in my parents’ home, my apartment and every other Latino family in the world. Growing up and till this day I always try to make plantain with any Cuban or Latin dinner I cook. The problem lies in not always being able to find ripe ones, last minute. I typically have to wait a few days for them to get black enough.
When I lived in Va, I used to shop for super ripe and right at point plantains at this African market right across the street from my rinky-dink (in size) apartment. If I was really pressed, I’d run instead of drive. I figured with all the deep frying I was getting ready to do, running to and fro would probably be a good idea. Anyway, the Ghanaian owned bootleg shop was the only one near me that always had plantains I could cook that night. Of course, if I was looking for green plantains (which wasn’t as often), I could always find that.
So for those of you that love eating plantain and for those of you that never have, I’m about to share with you three different ways you can quickly serve this fave fruit of mine and millions of others. I have made it about 5 other different ways, including plantain cheese balls–YUM!!, but I’ll save those for some other time.
Damn, this vanilla chai tea is NOT doing it for me right now…(now 2 am)
Thanks to Wikipedia, I get to cheat a bit tonight (please do forgive me) with some brief history on plantain:
“Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas and are used either when green or under-ripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet). Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when unripe. They are grown as far north as Florida, the Caribbean and Central America, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Egypt, and southern Japan or Taiwan and as far south as KwaZulu-Natal and southern Brazil. The largest exporter of plantains to the United States is Colombia.
MADUROS OR PLATANITOS FRITO
This is my favorite way to eat plantain. Really ripe, sweet, and the fastest way of preparing. Though you will want to get a really dark looking plantain, with little to not yellow and definitely NO green, you may hit or miss depending on the internal ripening. An example are the ones I cooked a few hours ago. They were very black and soft on the outside but they didn’t taste as sweet as I was hoping. Peeled and sliced diagonally into 1″pieces, they are deep fried until golden brown. You can sprinkle sugar or nutmeg on them. And all Latin nationalities may even differ in how they eat them. For instance, El Salvadorans cut them thicker and pour a gallop of sour cream on top. Not my cup of tea at all, but clearly it works for them.
Anyway, my dad was okay with the end result, but I like them a bit sweeter. You can eat plátanito frito with anything! Really. It’s not a fancy way of cooking plátanos or anything like that…they’re just good!
(These are waaaay too ugly but they were pretty good. Again, they don’t have to be this ripened, but it’s what I had around tonight).
and then you have…
This other way of deep fried plantain is very popular. A completely different taste and a bit more labor intensive, I think you’ll love these more, especially if you don’t a have a sweet tooth.
You want to make sure you pick a very green plantain that is hard. If you fry one that is starting to ripen, you’ll quickly see that it won’t keep that perfect little flat patty shape. It might not form all that great and start to break apart. But you can go forward with it anyway. Again, b/c these require a bit more work, give yourself a about 10 additional minutes. Cut into 2″pieces and fry on each side for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and with a brown paper bag, flatten them using the pressure of your palm (yeah the old traditional and practical way of doing it before “plantaneras” became available, if at all). Deep fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Sprinkle sea salt on the tostones, instead of sugar, and you can even do a really good garlic mojo to dip in or pour over.
I love it with the mojo when I add a bit of orange zest.
And lastly (for now)…
PLáTANO HERVIDO (boiled)
This is also very simple and takes the longest of the three. To make plátanos sancochados (the way Cubans say it) you want to get an “in between” plantain that is more ripe than green. It can’t be black though. It can show some black speckles but it should be more yellow than anything. Cut into 2.5″ pieces, boil (with peel on) and then peel… You can sprinkle nutmeg on this mildly sweet plátano or just eat as is.
This process is the same way we make a number of other plantain dishes, including “fufu“ or those cheese balls I mentioned earlier. I’ll touch on that later. As I mentioned earlier, there are about 10 or so different ways of cooking plantain that I know of and have had. These 3 are just really easy and basic. I will get into the fancy way of having plantain, though you just might have to wait for the book! 🙂
If you have any questions on how to prepare any one of these, please don’t hesitate to ask or email me!
Okay I’m out friends. I’ve had a tremendously long day and I need some sleep before I forget all the groceries I still need to buy first thing in the morning. Doing off site cooking—ugh.
Oh yeah and I have a really exciting non-food related post for next time. Think great music, Grammy nominee, etc… 🙂