Last week I walked into the grocery store and was met with a huge bin of plantains. I literally stopped in my tracks because I rarely see plantains in the markets around northern New England, let alone a whole bin heaping with fruit. They were all on sale for only 15 cents a piece! I think the produce guy must have ordered by pictures because he ordered a ton of plantains instead of regular bananas. Who cares? All I know is that I got a sweet deal on an armload of exotic fruit!
Plantains are big starchy bananas that are not as sweet as conventional bananas. All bananas are tropical fruits, and fried plantains in particular are a food that reminds me of growing up in Florida. Fried plantains (called tostones or patacones) were served as an appetizer topped with fresh cheese, as a snack with a dipping sauce, or with a meal like beans and rice.
Buy plantains green and eat them as tostones or wait for them to ripen until black in color and caramelize them like sweet bananas. I plan to use my plantain haul to make both varieties of goodness but since the bananas are green, now is the time for tostones.
- green plantains (1 banana for every 2 servings)
- frying oil
- heavy pan
- utensil for squishing
Choose a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Add canola oil to a depth of 1” and bring the oil to a medium high heat (approx. 375 degrees).
Peel and cut plantains into 1-2” pieces. Fry the plantain slices in the oil for 2-3 minutes a side or until just barely golden. Remove the slices from the oil with a slotted spoon and rest on a rack or paper towel. Working one by one, generously salt and then smash each piece of plantain with the back of a spatula.
Return the flattened plantains to the hot fry oil and cook for another 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and salt once more if desired.
Serve hot with a heavy squeeze of lime juice and a side of garlic dipping sauce made with crushed garlic, lime juice, and mayonnaise.