This week we finally brought plantain into the co-op, and the most I could offer in the way of what to do with them was "fried plantain". A friend from El Salvador had introduced them to me that way years ago, pan-fried until golden brown on each side and light sprinkled with powdered sugar, if I remember correctly. (That was also the night I had my first taste of properly-made guacamole - no sour cream, thank you very much.) Fried plantain is a comfort-food dessert or snack par excellence, lightly crisp on the outside, soft inside, warm and naturally sweet (I make it without the sugar at home). But I had never bothered to go beyond that and find out what else could be done with it beyond one failed attempt at eating it raw, not realizing that what I'd call "ripe" in a standard banana is still "underripe" in a plantain.
Fortunately my friend and co-op'er Gina Lissette White came to the rescue with some suggestions on the FH Facebook page this week that are too good not to share here as well, with her kind permission (text below courtesy on Gina; any errors however are to be blamed on my editing).
Ripe plantains are delicious raw - "ripe" as in very yellow, so ripe that the outside is nice and spotted. What is "perfect" in a standard banana is underripe in a plantain because of their increased starch content. (The same is true of red bananas.)
Fried plantain: Be careful when frying the very ripe ones because they start caramelizing and can fall apart if they're cut too thin. For a less sweet version, peel and slice green (underripe) plantain to about an inch and a half thickness, fry once on the outside, drain on paper towels, then "smash down" with the flat side of the knife or paddle, or glass bottom.
Mix a little cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, and season to taste as a dip for those green plantains.
You can also shred the green ones using a grater, season with a little salt and garlic and fry in clumps; in spanish they're called arañitas or "little spiders".
Grill them with a chili pepper and honey baste.
Or you can make mofongo out of it. (Janice's note: There are countless versions found online, no two exactly alike.) I don't have an exact recipe, but I have a list of ingredients that I use: mix some green plantain with yellow for a sweet/savory texture; add bacon or pancetta, throw in sauteed garlic, salt, pepper. I like to keep it simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves. -Gina White
Variation: The contributor of the Chowhound version of mofongo (see link above) says that "if you don't use bacon stop at step 2" - that is, fry the ingredients together but don't smash them together in a mortar and pestle, "you have tostones". -Janice
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.