Monday, February 22, 2010

Plantains and the Press

I only know one way to cook plantains. Or, more accurately, I usually only cook them one way. I don't cook them all that often, but when I do, I fall back to a recipe that I like. Why mess with such tasty success?

And it's dead simple.

Most of the plantains at the grocery store are woefully underripe, so I buy them well before I want to use them. Then they sit on the counter until they're mostly black. If bananas were that black, they'd be pudding inside, but not plantains.

The plantains here have just gone into the pan for the second fry. Don't they look like flowers, with their dark centers and frilly edges?


Twice-Fried Plantains
Because everything's better when it's cooked twice!

I cut the tops and bottoms off, slit the skin, and peel them. hey're not as willing as bananas, but not nearly as annoying as something like a pineapple.


After they're peeled, I slice them into rounds that are about an inch tall.
Into a frying pan they go, with a little oil, cut side down.

When one side is browned, I flip them over and brown the other side.

Then they come out of the pan.
They go into my handy little plantain smasher.

I smash them to about 1/4 inch tall.
And yes, the uncooked portion that's smooshing out is a little bit pink. 

I used to use a meat mallet, a sturdy mug, a small pot, or anything else I had handy. But when I found a tostone press (plaintain smasher) at a local market, and it was only a couple bucks, so I figured it was worth a try. It's a really simple device. Just a couple pieces of wood, hinged together, with a shallow round indent on one side.

The plantain smasher is less messy than using a meat mallet, and it's a little easier to make all the pieces the same thickness. Does everyone need a plantain press? Heck no. I don't need one, but it does make the job easier. It doesn't take a lot of storage space, and it was only a couple bucks, so I'd say it's worth having.

They go back into the pan they go to fry on both sides again, with a little sprinkle of salt. And that's it. Ready to serve.


The last time I fried plantains, I used quite a bit more oil, so they were doing almost a shallow fry. This time, I used a nonstick frying pan and just a bit of oil. The jury's still out on which is the better method.

3 comments:

ShowShanti said...

I live in Beijing and amongst a handful of things I can't find here, Plantains are one. Would taro root suffice as a substitute? Have you tried this with normal bananas? What happens if I use everyday bananas? I love this post and the hint of something delicious I can only imagine.

Rocquie said...

My husband loves plantains cooked this way. Very cute post for "Weekend Cook and Tell".

Donna Currie said...

ShowShanti, I've never cooked with taro root, but it's worth a try.

As far as regular bananas, I'm sure it wouldn't work with very ripe ones because they'd be too sweet and mushy, but a less-ripe one might work.

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