When my friend Clarissa raved about fried plantain patties, I was instantly hooked. I wanted to try plantains for a long time. So why not get acquainted with them by trying these sinfully delicious, crunchy, hearty patties? Luckily, Clarissa is generous and immediately agreed to share the recipe with us.
Now some hints concerning the Tostonera, the little mysterious device that Clarissa mentions below (I had never heard of it before). It is used to flatten and crush the plantain slices before frying. I noticed that this step is essential for really delicious patties. The few “uncrushed” slices I fried were neither as crispy nor as tasty as the squashed ones. I heeded Clarissa’s recommendation to improvise as I wanted to avoid buying a new kitchen appliance, no matter how small. Yet, the citrus press I used for crushing the plantain slices worked rather poorly. So I will buy a Tostonera since one thing is for sure: From now on we will enjoy these delicious patties on a regular basis.
|By Clarissa G.|
Here is how my friend Alba, a wonderful lady who lives in the US, prepares plantains – a staple food on her native island of Puerto Rico. It was in her kitchen 30 years ago that I ate plantain for the first time. When we visited Alba and her husband late last year she cooked plantain for us again, and this time I looked, listened and learned.
Plantains are relatively easy to come by in Southern USA. In Europe you can find them in the exotic fruit & veg section of your supermarket, or at an Asian or Chinese grocery store. Plantains ripen slowly, unlike bananas, which become mushy fairly quickly. You can buy plantains when they are green and hard and store them for quite some time.
If you want to try the recipe below, the plantains need to be well ripe, which means they must be yellow, have a few black spots and give very easily when you press them. If in doubt, err on the side of ripeness. Reckon with two plantains for three people.
For making the patties a small wooden press called tostonera comes in handy. A tostonera looks like two miniature cutting boards, one with a handle and one without, that are attached to each other with a hinge. On the inside of one of the boards is a circular indentation approximately 5 inches (7 cm) across. (If this description doesn’t make sense to you best search the Internet for photos from stockists.) You can also improvise by using two regular cutting boards, or a plate and a spatula. Or make your own tostonera if you are a keen woodworker. If you do, make the circle larger in diameter than an average plantain slice, and leave the wood untreated.
We had plantain as a warm topping on a leafy salad, as an accompaniment to tofu and rice, and by itself as a snack. It tasted wonderful in all cases.
So here’s how it goes.
Fried Plantain Patties – A Scrumptious, Crunchy Snack
- 2-3 Plantains
- Rapeseed or sunflower oil
- Peel the plantains and cut them into 1 inch (1½ cm) slices.
- Place a plantain slice into the carved-out circle of the tostonera (or whatever you are using instead) and squash it to make a flat, round patty. This is the reason why the plantain needs to be soft and ripe if you prepare it this way: rather than give and squash under the pressure, unripe plantain slices will shoot out of the tostonera across your kitchen. The rest is easy.
- Heat oil in a deep pan and deep fry the patties until they are a nice brown colour.
- Drain on a kitchen towel, sprinkle with salt (generously if health permits, it really does make a difference!) and eat them while warm.
- You can keep them warm in an oven for a while. They’ll lose some of their crispness, but are still good!