A Toast to Tostones: Taste of the Caribbean
Pretty much everywhere you go in the Caribbean you’ll find plantains on the menu in some form or fashion. Whether steamed, boiled, or fried, this green-skinned cousin of the sweeter, yellow banana fruit we all know and love is as ubiquitous throughout the region as sun, sand and sea.
Now whereas bananas are usually enjoyed raw, plantains are preferred when cooked. Unripe plantains (they’re the green ones) yield a starchy, almost potato-like flavor, while the black over-ripe ones are really sweet and gooey. If you’re looking for a tweener taste that’s not too starchy and not too sweet, just use a ripe yellow plantain.
There are lots of different recipes employing unripe, ripe and over-ripe plantains, and I can’t say there’s one I’ve tried that didn’t agree with me. If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be the fried variety from Puerto Rico called tostones.
These aren’t the thin, fried plantain chips that you may have seen hiding among the Lays and Doritos at your local grocery store, though in some parts of Central & South America those skinny chips go by the same name. Puerto Rican tostones are fat, fried and very filling patties generally served as a side dish or as a snack all on its own. Best of all, tostones are really easy to make. Here’s a quick recipe that serves about four people in just over 10 minutes.
- 2 Green Plantains
- Oil for Frying
- Salt to Taste
Get the heat going under a pot of cooking oil. You’ll want to reach a temp of about 375 degrees. As the oil is heating, peel your green plantains and cut them into 3/4 inch slices. With your oil now fully heated, fry the slices for three minutes, making sure they stay semi-soft while achieving a light golden color. Next, remove the plantain slices from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain ’em on paper towels. You’re not done, so be sure to keep the oil hot. Once the plantain slices are cool enough to handle, smash and shape them into flat rounds. Here’s where the twice-fried part comes in – take your plantain rounds and place ’em back in the hot oil for another three minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they’re crisp and golden brown. Take ’em out with slotted spoon as before and let them drain on some fresh paper towels. Lastly, add salt to taste.