Plantains suspiciously look like bananas, and often get confused for bananas. Even though plantains are a member of the banana family, they are distinctly different. They are actually a fruit, but treated like a vegetable. Plantains are native to India and the Caribbean, but they are also widely used in Latin cuisine. Growing up in a Latin family, we quite often ate plátanos. They are so versatile and so delicious.
Typically bananas are eaten raw, and plantains are steamed, boiled, grilled, fried or baked. They are super simple to cook since I usually fry them in a pan with some oil. I always say there are two types of plantains; ones that are green, and ones that turn yellow/black, or super ripe. The riper they get, the sweeter they are. I personally prefer to fry my plantains when they are green, as they are crispier. When they become over ripe and sweet, they are soft.
There are two methods to pan frying these fruits.
Maduros – Pan fry plantains of about 1/2″ thickness for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown in a pan on medium heat. This style is often used in desserts.
Tostones – Take the maduros you already made and smash them down thinner (this can be done by using the bottom of a glass to press them down – remember maduros are soft even once they’ve been fried). Now fry again for another 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are crispy. They will be a deep golden color.
Drain the plantains (maduros or tostones) on a paper towel to remove the excess grease. The only seasoning you will need is to sprinkle them with a little salt while they are still hot.
This is the plantain I’ll be using. As you can see, I let it sit in my fruit basket for a while, and now it’s on it’s way to becoming ripe and sweet. These are fairly easy to peel once ripe since the skin is softer. When they are still green, the skin is tough and you may need the help of a knife to slice down the side to make peeling easier.
I chopped these a little thinner than usual since I won’t be double frying them. They are chopped into approximately 1/4″ thick size coins.
Once the oil in your pan has been heated to about medium heat, you can carefully place them right in.
This is more or less how they will look once they’ve been fried for a few minutes on each side. They are still very soft, and sweet to the taste. Don’t forget to season them with salt!
Like I mentioned earlier, plantains are so versatile, whether you cook them tostones or maduros style. They can be used in sweet or savory dishes. I wrapped these in a flour tortilla with some homemade avocado salsa.
Disfruta tu comida!