Plantains | Plátano

Welcome! Jillian and Peter:

My lovely niece, Jillian is getting married this May.  My son, Peter gave his girlfriend, Lauren a ring this past winter.  I am very excited and blessed to have such a beautiful family.  Welcome!

A plantain to the untrained eye could easily be mistaken for a banana. It looks and smells like a banana, but if you ever bite into a raw plantain (plátano in Spanish), you’ll know it’s not.

Plantains are bigger than bananas, harder to peel (especially when green), and cannot be eaten raw. They must be cooked for consumption. So, why are they so popular in Latin cuisine? Plantains are very versatile. They are always ready for cooking no matter what stage of ripeness – green, yellow or black, and plantains are used in different dishes from appetizers to desserts.

Stages of Ripeness
A plantain is a fruit, but considered a vegetable. When green, they are bland and starchy, much like a yucca root or potato. Medium ripe plantains are yellow or yellow dappled with black, and they are slightly sweet. When the skins have turned almost black, the plantains are fully ripe, aromatic and sweet.

How to Peel a Plantain
Peeling a plantain can be tricky. Ripe plantains peel easily, like a banana. Green plantains are very difficult to peel.   Before you begin peeling a plantain, bring it to room temperature. If you’ve store your plantains in the refrigerator, the cold temperature can make it twice as hard to peel. One trick I use is to soak the plantains in hot tap water for a few minutes to warm them up.

  1. Slice off the ends
  2. Use a sharp knife to slit the skin from tip to tip.
  3. Peel under cold running water to keep your hands from becoming stained.
  4. Peel the skin sideways in one piece.
  5. Place the peeled fruit in salted water to keep it from discoloring before cooking.

Buying Plantains
Plantains are widely available throughout the U.S. and can usually be found in the produce section of your local supermarket. At the grocery store, look for firm plantains. Avoid shriveled, squishy, or moldy fruit. You can ripen plantains by storing them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Turn them daily. It will take seven to ten days for green plantains to fully ripen. If you aren’t ready to use them when they’ve reach the desired stage of ripeness, you can peel and freeze them for up to three months.

I like to buy a bunch of plantains while they are green. This way, I can enjoy them over several days and at each delicious stage of ripeness. When still green, I prepare tostones or plantain chips seasoned with salt and pepper.  They go well as a side dish with rice and beans.

Plantains are a staple in the Latin diet. They are prepared many different ways, but tostones is the quickest and easiest. It’s a perfect recipe for beginners. You can serve the tostones immediately while they’re warm as a side dish or as a snack with garlic dip.

Tostones or Plantain Chips 

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Ingredients:  2 green plantains, Oil for frying, Salt to taste

 Preparation:  Heat the oil to 375 degrees.

1.  While the oil is heating up, peel the green plantains and then cut them into 3/4 inch slices.  Fry the slices in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be a light golden color and semi-soft.

2.  Remove the plantain slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Tip: Maintain the oil’s temperature.

3.  When the plantain slices are cool enough to handle (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds. 

4.  Fry the rounds in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They will turn crisp and golden brown.  Remove the tostones with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Salt to taste.

Serves: 3-4 people

 Garlic Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

 Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil, warmed

1 head of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

 Preparation:

1.  Use a blender or food processor to mix the ingredients; Blend all the ingredients together in a bowl.

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