Plantains - Chips and Tostones
I spent a lot of time around plantains when I lived in Aruba. Tostones were a regular feature in our employee cafeteria. When I first arrived in Maine, they were pretty hard to find, as were most tropical ingredients. Times have changed, and plantains are a regular staple item at my grocery store now.
The two preparations I give here result in two very different final products. The plantain chips are crispy like potato chips and the Tostones (as they are known in Puerto Rico) or Batakons (in Colombia) are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Both preparations are great as snacks. The plantain chips are great on salads, with dips and I even crush them and mix them with a little Panko bread crumbs as a breading for pan-seared fish. The dish that won me Caribbean Chef of the Year was tiger shrimp wrapped with the long plantain strips and fried to a crispy-golden color.
It is important to use green plantains for these recipes. Ripe-yellow plantains will fall apart. As an hors d’oeuvre, figure one green plantain per person.
Mandolines are essential in the kitchen to achieve a fine slice, like with these plantain chips, or efficient julienne, however, they are one of the most dangerous tools that home cooks use. My advice is to take your time, use the safety hand guard (or cut resistant gloves) and be careful.
Cut resistant gloves are a great, inexpensive way to prevent injuries in the kitchen. The safety hand guards that come with Mandolines can be cumbersome and hard to use, while these gloves give you the dexterity to manipulate the item you are cutting without the worry of harming yourself. Other great uses for these gloves are for shredding cheese or vegetables on a box grater, opening oysters with an oyster knife or removing the shoulder blade bone from a pork butt with a sharp tipped boning knife.
Plantain Chips and TostonesCourse: Hors d’OeuvresCuisine: CaribbeanDifficulty: Medium
The two preparations I give here result in two very different final products. The plantain chips are crispy like potato chips and the Tostones (as they are known in Puerto Rico) or Batakons (in Colombia) are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Create just one style with all of the plantains, or add some variety and prepare 2 plantains in each style.
4 green Plantains
Canola oil for frying
Kosher salt to taste
- Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Remove the ends of the plantains and score the plantain skin four times lengthwise with a sharp paring knife, just cutting through the peel. Submerge the plantains for 1 minute.
- Remove from the water and peel away the skin, using a paring knife if necessary.
- Plantain Chips
- Once the plantains are peeled, slice very thin lengthwise into long strips, or on the bias into very thin oval strips. I use a mandoline to get thin strips, but a good vegetable peeler should also do the trick.
- Fry the plantains in 350-degree oil until crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and season with kosher salt.
- Tostones or Batakons
- Once the plantains are peeled, cut into 1-inch long pieces and place in a bowl of cold water.
- In a deep and heavy cast iron pot or deep-fat fryer, heat 2 inches of canola (vegetable) oil to 350-degrees F. Remove plantains from the water and pat dry.
- Deep-fry the plantain pieces for about 5 minutes, until they are browned evenly. Remove and allow them to cool.
- Gently press down on the plantains with a meat mallet or sauce pot, flattening them and place them back into the cold water. Let them sit in the cold water for 3 minutes, allowing them to swell slightly.
- Remove them from the water, pat dry and deep-fry once again until they are crispy. Remove, drain on paper towels and season with kosher salt. Serve hot.
- It is important to use green plantains for these recipes. Ripe-yellow plantains will fall apart. As an hors d’oeuvre, figure one green plantain per person.