Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plantains--the other Banana

I had looked at plantains for a long time before ever trying them.  Could they actually be eaten when they looked like bruised and beaten, rotting bananas?  Could they be eaten green and under-ripe, looking thick and tough?  Were they really starchy like potatoes and not sweet fruit able to eaten raw like their neighbors in the fruit isle?

The answers I found through some trial and error.  Being terrified of the battered plantains, I tried the green ones first.  They are firm and starchy, meaning they are harder to swallow and need liquid or fat to help them traverse your esophagus.  That is my impression anyway, but my husband LOVES them green.  I finally got up the courage and tried the yellow ones, moving on to the more and more ripe and defaced of the bunch.  They are incredibly complex in flavor: sweet and mushy like a ripe banana, but still preserving what I love about under-ripe bananas, that tanginess.  They have a sweet and sour flavor complexity and are absolutely delicious!

So either way you like them, green or yellow, here is a delicious and relatively quick way to prepare them:

Squashed Plantain Chips
Cooking Time: half an hour or less start to finish

1 plantain per diner
coconut oil

Set a skillet to medium high heat and add the coconut oil.  Cut the ends off the plantains.  Score the plantains lengthwise with a knife so you can peel strips of the skin off.  Cut the plantains into 1 inch disks and add to oil.  Brown the bottoms (be careful not to burn them!), flip, and brown the tops.  Remove to a plate or cutting board and squash them down with the bottom of a glass wet with water to help prevent sticking.  You can also use any object relatively plantain-sized with a flat bottom.  Add more oil to the skillet if it is gone, then add the flattened plantain disks.  Brown again on both sides.  Remove and salt on a plate.  They are ready to serve!

Serving ideas:
Serve with guacamole on top (if you can stand more fat in this meal) and/or top with carnitas.  They make the most delicious mini-sandwiches imaginable!

Fried Plantains on FoodistaFried Plantains

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