I’m baffled by the fact that plantains are not more widely appreciated in my corner(s) of the world. The close-to-a-banana-but-not-really fruit can certainly be found in the States and here in Argentina, but it doesn’t have the same staple-food status that it enjoys in the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. What the heck is wrong with the rest of us?! Do we avoid delicious food? Do we not like fruit that tastes like candy? Smarten up, people!
There’s no shortage of ways to prepare plantains. Depending on the region, they may be boiled, steamed, fried, grilled, baked or mashed and served in stews, with rice, with black beans, as chips…..you get the idea. While I’ll take my plantain in any form I can get it, my favorite preparation also happens to be the easiest. Fry it up and eat it.
Plantains can be eaten when green, but at that stage they’re much more starchy than I prefer. As they ripen, they get sweeter. And when I say ripen, I really mean turn into an ugly black pod.
To be fair, I let this guy go a bit longer than usual. I think it was uglying up the fruit bowl for about a month, and I fully intended to prepare it sooner when it wasn’t quite as offensive looking. But hey, life gets in the way. Anyway, I opened it up and surprise! Still ripe, sweet and delicious.
This recipe is TOTALLY flexible. You can make your slices thinner to get a crispier result, but I like mine with some soft meat in the middle. Some people prefer to use butter or coconut oil for a different flavor. You really can’t go wrong.
Two ripe plantains
Oil of choice
Peel the plantains and slice on the diagonal, making each piece less than one inch thick. Pour enough oil in a heavy-bottom sauté pan to adequately cover the bottom. Heat oil on medium-high. Let oil get nice and hot before adding the plantain slices. After about 30 seconds, check the bottoms. You want them brown and crispy, not black and burnt. Flip each slice over when they’ve reached your desired done-ness, and cook for another 30 seconds or so until caramelized. Remove from oil and allow to cool just slightly before serving.
(One plantain = one serving, más o menos)