Friday, August 16, 2013
Tostones (Twice Fried Pantains)
A few days ago I posted the recipe for my Baja Sauce that I used on my shrimp tacos (pictured above). The tacos were incredible, but the tostones really put the meal over the top for me. I love these things! Tostones are nothing more than twice fried plantains, and they are heavenly. Slightly sweet and starchy on the inside, crispy and salty on the inside. Mmm. I couldn't think of a better accompaniment to a south of the border meal.
They are ridiculously simple. It all starts with a plantain. You know? Those things that look like huge bananas (and are usually straighter). A lot of people like to use the unripe, green plantains, but I like the sweetness of the yellow/black plantains. They are in no way as sweet as a banana . . . think more along the lines of a sweet potato.
Just cut both ends off the plantain, and score the peel down the length of the plantain.
Then, using your thumbs, carefully pull the peel away from the flesh. (This will be harder than peeling a banana . . . almost like trying to peel a green banana.) The peel will give way with gentle coaxing. (The green ones are MUCH harder to peel and require a few slits to remove it completely from the flesh.)
Slice the plantain into 1 to 1 1/2 inch rounds.
Put a large skillet on the stove, over high heat and put enough oil (peanut or veg) in the pan to be about 1/4 inch high. It is a VERY shallow fry. (If you wanted to be more authentic, you could go ahead and deep fry them, but I tend to shy away from deep frying.) When the oil is hot, gently place the plantain disks into the oil.
Turn the heat down to medium and after about a minute, they should be ready to flip. (The color will change to a yellow. - I have flipped the ones in the middle. See the difference?) At this point you're not looking for much browning, just a softening of the fruit. (This will take longer if using green plantains.)
When the plantain disks are yellow and slightly golden and soft on both sides, remove them from the pan and place on a plate. (They are VERY sticky, so don't put them on paper towel . . . unless you like to eat paper towel that's stuck to your food.) Gently place the rounded side of a spoon directly into the center of each disk, and gently push down until the disk is flattened to about 1/2 inch in thickness. (It helps to grease the back of your spoon too. Did I mention they are stick?)
They should look something like this after they have been flattened. Each one will look a little different. And that's o.k. Kind of like snowflakes. :)
Place the flattened plantain disks back into the hot oil and fry for a second time.
When they turn brown, they are ready to flip, and salt on the one side.
When the second side is brown and crispy, you can remove them from the pan.
Place them on a plate or rack (again no paper towels please), and generously salt them. (Think like you're salting french fries.)
When they have sufficiently cooled (just a couple minutes), you can serve them up and eat them. Honestly, half of them don't even make it to the table, because I have devoured them while finishing dinner in the kitchen.
If you have any that have survived the trip from the kitchen to the table, go ahead and serve them up as a side to anything you wish. My favorites to pair with tostones are: fish and shrimp tacos with my Baja Sauce, and carnitas. Yum, yum!
Here's the "recipe" (It's more of a method than an exact recipe.)
2 plantains (you could make as many as you'd like, but less than 2 is never an option in our house.)
oil (peanut, veggie, or any high temp. oil for frying)
Peel an slice the plantains into 1 to 1 1/2 inch rounds. In a large skillet, add enough oil to come up at least 1/4 way up the pan. Turn the heat to high and let the oil get hot. When the oil is hot, gently add the plantain disks, circle side down (see picture). Turn the heat down to medium and fry for about a minute (longer if using green plantains). When the bottoms have turned yellow, and softened slightly, gently flip each piece over and fry the second side. When both sides are done, remove the plantains to a plate. Gently push the rounded end of a spoon into the center of each plantain disk. Slowly flatten them each to about 1/2 inch in thickness. (Greasing the spoon will help the plantains to slide off easily.) Return the flattened disks to the hot oil and fry for a second time. When the first side is brown and crispy, carefully flip each one over. Salt the first side, and continue to fry the second side until brown and crispy. Move the finished tostones to a plate or cooling rack and salt the second side liberally (think like you're salting french fries). Cool slightly before eating.