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)
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.