August 10, 2009
You didn’t think that I forgot, did you? I owe you the last component of our recent jerk chicken dinner. So, (hopefully) better late than never, I share with you the joys of tostones! (AKA fried green plantains.)
I usually opt for maduros (sauteed or fried sweet plantains), but could only find green ones at the market. A blessing in disguise! Though sweet are still my fave, these salty, savory bites struck a great balance between the spice of the jerk chicken and kale, and the sweet of the mango salsa.
Plantains are a staple throughout the Caribbean, Central, and South America. The sweet ones are usually yellow with brown, softening and turning almost black as they ripen (off the vine). The savory ones, like the one I cooked, are much more firm and stay green. They are usually fried twice: first, a thick slice gets thrown in oil then, about halfway through cooking, they are removed from heat, smashed flat, and returned to the frying pan to finish. I’ve seen a nifty tool that does the smashing, but just used the bottom of a heavy glass to smash mine. Worked like a charm.
Sometimes tostones are served with a mojo (a spicy, often garlic-based sauce made various ways depending on the country of origin), and other times they are salted and served like chips. Since we were already eating a mango salsa, we went with simple. But these babies make great snacks, appetizers, or cocktail party fare when paired with a mojo or, really, any other latin flavor dipping sauce.
(can be served to kids 12+ mos)
2 green plantains, cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
organic vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Fill a medium saucepan or dutch oven (what I use to keep clean up easy) with oil for frying. If you want to do a proper fry, fill to about 4 or 5 inches. Since my dutch oven is enameled and essentially non-stick, I use less oil—about 1-2 inches. Heat until very hot. If you have a deep-frying thermometer, it should register about 375 degrees. I just toss a drop of water in the oil. When it makes a big crackle and pop, I’m ready to go.
2. Add plantains, being sure not to overcrowd, and fry until lightly golden. You will do this in batches. If you’re not cooking with enough oil so that the plantains are submerged, you’ll have to turn them over.
3. Once light golden brown on both sides, transfer plantains to a paper towel. Repeat with remaining plantains.
4. Once cool enough to handle, smash the 1/2 way cooked plantains. You can be super neat about it and place them between sheets of saran wrap or do as I do—start smashing with whatever heavy object you have around (a heavy bottomed skillet, thick glass, etc).
5. Return smashed plantains to hot oil. Fry more, about 2-3 minutes, until they are toasty and golden brown. Transfer to paper towels and sprinkle with salt when done.
Note: 2 plantains serves as a side dish for a family of 2 adults and 1-2 kids. If making for more people or as snack food or an app, you’ll want to pick up a few more.