I grew up eating plantains. Every week my mom would bring home bundles of these muscular green bananas, allow them to ripen under the kitchen counter until the skin was mottled with black streaks against a yellow canvas. She'd then pop one into the microwave for 4-5 minutes, carefully slit open the steamed black peel, which would reveal a concentrated, sweet and dense cooked banana. It was almost like a warm doughy banana pudding, very comforting.
So when I ran into plantains again at the grocery store, I decided to make another dish that is considered a comfort food for many South American countries, fried plantains. When green, these bananas are quite starchy, and have a texture reminiscent of potatoes. Plantains can be served along side any dish that you would serve with french fries. While the fried plantains were good, the next time I try this recipe, I am going to wait until the plantains ripen a bit, perhaps when the peel achieves a mottled yellow. I think the contrast between sweet and salty would be interesting.
Fried Green Plantains
(adapted generously from Gourmet, Sept 2007)
- 1 large unripe (green) plantain
- About 1 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced or crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cut ends from each plantain with a sharp small knife, then cut a lengthwise slit through peel. Cut plantains crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces and, beginning at slit, pry off peel.
- Heat 1/2 inch oil in a deep 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until just hot enough to sizzle when a piece of plantain is added. Do not crowd, fry plantains in batches if necessary, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender and just golden, 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer plantains to paper towels to drain, reserving oil in skillet. Turn off heat.
- Flatten each plantain to 1/4 inch thick with a sturdy coffee mug.
- Stir together warm water, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat reserved oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Dip a flattened plantain in salted garlic water and gently place, without patting dry, in hot oil. (Plantains did not spatter when I did this step.) Repeat with several more pieces and fry plantain, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, turning occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to clean paper towels to drain. Season with salt and serve immediately.