Tostones

Plantains are totally the flavour of the week. They may even be the flavour of the month. I am EXCITED by plantains.

Like bananas, plantains come from herbaceous plants (neat, right?), but plantains are starchier and denser than bananas and so they are a fabulously versatile cooking ingredient. They can be fried, braised, roasted, mashed, boiled, steamed … did I mention fried? And they are two different beasts depending on whether ripe or green plantains are used. I am currently obsessing over plantains. I have a feeling I’ll be posting lots of plantain recipes in the next couple of weeks.

Tostones, also called patacones in some parts of Central America, are basically twice-fried green plantains. They are easy to make, AND THEY ARE AWESOME.

You will need:

Two green or green-yellow plantains

Half a liter of good-quality cooking oil, such as sunflower or canola oil

Fine salt (If you only have coarse salt, pound it in a mortar and pestle, ideally to dust)

Method:

Peel and slice the plantains into rounds about a centimeter thick.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan to 180 degrees Celsius (about 355 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the oil is ready when, if you dip the end of one of your plantain slices in the oil, the oil fizzes and bubbles. If the oil starts spitting, it is too hot, and it is definitely too hot if it is smoking. Don’t let it get too hot – kitchen accidents involving hot oil are a major bummer, plus you will be sad if you burn your tostones.

Fry the tostones in the oil, turning after about a minute, until pale golden, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You can do this up to an hour or so before you want to serve.

Next (and this is the important part!) whack the tostones on a hard surface so they are flat. In Latin America you can buy, I shit you not, a DEDICATED UTENSIL for this purpose. However, any utensil with a large enough flat surface, such as a mallet, the bottom of a jar, or a rolling pin, will do. Return to the hot oil and fry another 1-2 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain, sprinkle liberally with salt, and serve while hot.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

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4 thoughts on “Tostones

  1. i haven’t tried plantains before but i really want to after seeing this! i’m really curious, do they taste like bananas, just harder? hmm. got to try them one day. where i live, i can get them really really easily, so there’s really no reason to keep putting it off! i’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Hm. Hard to explain exactly. They taste a little like bananas, but they don’t taste at all like fake bananas. You know how sometimes when you imagine the taste of banana you think of fake banana? You can’t fake a plantain. The mature ones taste more like bananas after you’ve caramelised them. In Central America fried mature plantains are called maduros and they are amazing. (When the skin is brown and mottled they are not overripe, they are perfect.) They’re really easy to cook and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to start experimenting with them. I’d love to hear back when you’ve tried this recipe! (Or tried cooking plantains in general.)

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