books and reading · culture/multiculturalism · food · Hispanics/Latinos · prayer

Plantain Party

Growing up, I ate pretty much the same thing every day without deviation: eggs (or eggplant) with mangu (mashed green plantains) for breakfast and/or lunch and chicken, rice, beans (my favorite were red but my husband loves then black) and plantains on the side (tostones or maduros). If my mother served anything else, I said it wasn’t a real meal.
Today, I can’t go without rice for more than a couple of days without feeling like the world is out of order. But on Pesach (Passover), my husband’s Ashkenazi Jewish family doesn’t eat beans or rice so I survive by eating plantains and yucca instead of (yeech!) potatoes. In fact, since I’m watching my weight, Pesach is the only time I eat plantains fried. The rest of the year it’s baked or not at all.
Lately more than one Jewish friend has asked about my obsession with plantains so I thought I’d share these recipes. Here are my three favorite ways to eat plantains (with help from “Traditional Dominican Cookery” by Clara Gonzalez and Ilana Benady)…
First, your basic lesson on plantains:
Green plantains are not ripe but starchy. No, they are not bananas.
Unlike bananas, plantains are cooked and never eaten raw.
Yellow plantains are ripe and sweet.
Even so, adding a little brown sugar and cinnamon doesn’t hurt anybody.

And now, for my top three favorite ways to eat platanos.

Mangu (mashed plantains)

Ingredients:
4 unripe (green) plantains) 4 tablespoons of butter
1 large onion 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt

Before beginning: Peel the plantains and cut into 8 pieces.

Preparation:

Boil the plantains adding 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. When the
plantains are very tender turn off the heat. Take the plantains out of the
water and mash them with a fork. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of water at room
temperature and keep mashing until you obtain a smooth puree.

Cut the onion into strips and saute until it turns transparent.

Serve with eggs or fried cheese.

Tostones (flattened fried plantains)

Ingredients:

2 unripe (green) plantains 4 teaspoons of cold water
1/2 teaspoons of crushed garlic 1/2 cup of oil
Salt

Preparations:

Peel the plantains and cut into 1 inch-thick slices. Heat the oil in a deep
frying pan and fry the plantains till golden brown on both sides. Flatten
the plantains to half their original thickness using a tostonera (or the
bottom of a flat bottomed glass bottle). Fry the plantains again for about a
minute, rotating half-way through. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve hot.

This last step is optional: Mix the water and the crushed garlic. Stir and
pour over the plantains.



Baked/Fried Maduros (yellow plantains)

Ingredients:
4 very ripe plantains (when the skin is yellow with spots of black)
cooking spray or olive oil

Optional: cinnamon and brown sugar and/or vanilla to be sprinkled on plantains before baking.

Preparations:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel. Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray. Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

(Also, yellow plantains can be fried. Cut into slices or 1-inch discs and fry in oil until golden brown or a little black.)

And if you’re not ready to cook them but you want to taste plantains, your local grocery store may carry kosher plantain chips. They’re a bit salty but totally yummy and crunchy.

Very important read: “How to peel a plantain”

17 thoughts on “Plantain Party

  1. Wow. Those recipes look amazing and totally doable.

    I wonder if I can convince my husband-to-be to try them after we're married?

    (Where can you buy plantains? I'm moving to Brooklyn – I wonder if I have to get them outside of Crown Heights?)

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  2. Yes. Green plantains are hard to peel. There's a trick. You slide the knife over it the long way nicking it deeper at the ends so you can them rip the peel away. My friend has a better way to do it. I'm going to go email him. Bask in the humor of a Dominican girl emailing a Russian Jewish guy on how to peel plantains.

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  3. Steg, they don't peel like bananas. They can be difficult to peel.

    Cut the ends off firts. Then, slice the skin along one of the ridges to the depth of the plantain. Then, use the knife or fingers to slide into the cut and loosen skin. Voila! I usually make 2 or 3 cuts.

    Also, lightly oiling your fingers if you are peeling lots of them helps.

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  4. These are a staple food group at my house. We are sad since we moved away from our favorite Cuban restaurant and can no longer indulge in three side orders of plantains with black beans and rice on a whim. 😦

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  5. This erev Shabbos I went to the Korean produce store a block and half from my new home in Crown Heights in search of a ripe avocado, lo and behold – they have green and yellow plantains! I bought some green ones to try out some of these recipes with this week.

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