Take your pick of fried green plantains: Chips, fries, tostones, arañitas

Hi Everyone, Please don’t roll your eyes. Don’t sigh at the headline and say, ‘not green plantains again’! I know, that you know that I am obsessed with green plantains, but indulge me one more time.  And regardless of what you think, I do this for you, always.

So you know that I buy green plantains every week when I go to the market. Well, what you might not know is that each week I prepare my green plantains in a different way so that I don’t get tired of having it the same way week after week. Sometimes I make chips – cut them into thin rounds or sliced lengthways and fry them until crisp. Another time, I cut them into thick-cut fries, almost like wedges and cook them. There are times when I cook it this way that I take it a step further and pound it together with garlic and pepper.

On other occasions, I make tostones, also known as patacones – twice fried green plantains. This method of preparation is popular in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and other parts of South America and Puerto Rico. They are also found in West African cuisine and are known there as plantain crisps.

Yet another way that I fry and enjoy green plantains is by making arañitas – shredded green plantain fritters.

Plantain fries (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Each method of preparation and the finished product offers a different way to enjoy fried green plantains. You can snack, serve as an appetizer, make sandwiches or serve as a side dish. One ingredient, one basic method of preparation, multiple ways of presenting and enjoying.

Chips

Whether you cut the plantains into rounds or slice lengthways, the key is to get the slices wafer thin. The skinniness of the slices means that the chips will cook up quickly and remain crisp over a few days.

Friesales

Cut into thick wedges, plantain fries can be served pretty much the same way as French Fries. Eat them as is or with a dip or condiment of your choice. Tender and almost fluffy when hot or very warm, green plantains fries are a great alternative to French Fries and are much healthier given the type of frying it requires (shallow) and the little time it takes to cook.

L – Tostones R – Tostones appetizer (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Tostones/Patacones

Twice fried and smashed, tostones can serve as appetizer bites with a dip, topped with anything, or work as a bun for a sandwich.

As an appetizer, the plantains are cut into thick rounds (1/2 to 1-inch) once peeled and shallow-fried. After the first frying, they are smashed, flattened, and then fried again until golden and the edges crisp, sometimes they even puff up. Top these little round beauties with cooked minced meat, guacamole, fried salt fish, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, really just go with what you like and these tostones become elegant appetizers.

To make the “bun” for a fried green plantain sandwich, popularly known as Jibarito sandwiches in Chicago, the plantains are quartered, fried, pressed flat, fried again and then assembled as a sandwich with various fillings. Just in case you are a little confused, the pieces of plantains once pressed become these large flat disks. One piece is placed flat on a work surface, smeared with garlic oil, mayo or whatever dressing you would like, then meat, vegetables, pickles etc. are piled on, then another piece of plantain is placed on top, you pick it up like you would a burger or sandwich and dig in. So good.

The main thing of note when making tostones and patacones is that you need to have something heavy to smash, flatten the plantains. I use my cast iron skillet; it has the kind of heft needed.

Aranitas (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Arañitas

Arañitas is Spanish for little spiders and that’s what these shredded fritters look like. The plantains are grated using the coarse or large side of a box grater, seasoned and then fried in clumps. Whimsical in look, you, your family and friends will immediately be drawn to them. Crisp all around but soft on the inside. These are best served with a dip of some sort. What I like to do sometimes is not fry them in clumps at all but in a single layer as little crisps.

The recipes are simple and unlike me, you don’t have to wait until weekend to go to the market or to get green plantains so try frying some green plantains soon.

PLANTAIN CHIPS

INGEDIENTS

2 large green plantains peeled and cut wafer thin into
rounds or lengthways.
Oil
Salt

DIRECTIONS

Heat 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Fry plantains in batches; separate the slices and do not let them clump. Cook until golden – about 1 minute, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and season with a light sprinkling of salt.

Once cooled, these chips can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature.

PLANTAIN FRIES

INGREDIENTS

3 – 4 green plantains, peeled

Oil

Salt

DIRECTIONS

Assembling Patacone Sandwich (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Cut plantains in half, crossways then cut each piece in half lengthways. Half each piece lengthways; each plantain should give you 8 pieces.

Heat 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Fry plantains in batches until golden – about 2 – 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Serve as is, with a dip, condiment or as a side just as you would French Fries.

TOSTONES/PATACONES

INGREDIENTS

2 large green plantains, peeled

Oil

Salt

DIRECTIONS

Method 1 – Appetizer

Cut plantains into ½ or 1-inch thick rounds.

Heat 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Fry plantains in batches. While still hot, place 1 piece of plantain at a time between plastic wrap and using something heavy with a flat bottom, smash, flatten the plantain and set aside. Repeat until all are smashed.

Reheat oil and fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Serve as is, with a dip or condiment, side dish or as an appetizer topped with something.

Method 2 – Bun

Cut plantains in half crossway then half each piece lengthways. Each plantain should give you 4 pieces.

Heat 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Fry plantains in batches. While still hot, place 1 piece of plantain at a time between plastic wrap and using something heavy with a flat bottom, smash, flatten the plantain. Repeat until all are smashed.

Reheat oil and fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.

Use just as you would slices of bread or bun to make a sandwich or burger.

ARAÑITAS

INGREDIENTS

2 large green plantains

Water

Salt

1 tablespoon minced (paste) garlic

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Oil

DIRECTIONS

Add tap water to a large bowl, add salt to the water and stir to dissolve. The water should have salt to taste; set aside.

Peel and grate plantains on the large side of a box grater.

Add the grated plantains to the bowl with the salted water and let sit in the water for 10 minutes.

Drain shredded plantains well and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture; you need to use two sets of kitchen towels to really blot out the water.

Transfer the plantains to a bowl, add garlic and black pepper and mix well.

Heat 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Using a tablespoon or your hands if you like, gather a little of the plantain in a clump and add to the pan, repeat until you have about 4 or 5 clumps (depending on the size of your pan) and fry in batches until golden, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 4 – 5 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and serve as is or with a dip or condiment.

Cynthia
gro.e1432931811mohek1432931811ilset1432931811sat@a1432931811ihtny1432931811C1432931811" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://gro.e1432931811mohek1432931811ilset1432931811sat@a1432931811ihtny1432931811C1432931811', 'gro.e1432931811mohek1432931811ilset1432931811sat@a1432931811ihtny1432931811C1432931811');" target="_blank">gro.e1432931811mohek1432931811ilset1432931811sat@a1432931811ihtny1432931811C1432931811
www.tasteslikehome.org

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.