Food 101: Tostones aka Fried Plantains
I created a monster. I turned Erik into a tostones monster. My first experience with plantains was tostones. I saw Alton Brown make them on Good Eats and was intrigued, so I made them. Erik’s first experience with plantains was them just cooked and in a sauce as a side dish at a Colombian restaurant. He couldn’t understand how I liked plantains so much (since not-fried plantains, while not bad, are definitely not as good as their fried brethren). So I told him about how amazing fried plantains are and that I would make them for him sometime so he could see for himself. I think he may still have been a bit skeptical. But boy did his mind change after he had them. Now we cannot go to a grocery store without Erik sneaking some plantains into our cart to make with dinner. As I said, I’ve created a monster.
I’ve talked about plantains before in a review of plantain chips. As I mentioned in that post, fried plantains are pretty much the best French fry you’ll ever have. Because they’re so starchy, when you smush them and fry them they almost become self-battering. It can be hard to believe that they haven’t been dipped in something other than water. They’re crunchy, starchy, and salty in all the best ways. You’re definitely going to want to give these a try.
Important to note: plantains can’t be easily peeled like bananas. You’ll need a knife to peel them. The best way to do this is to cut a small bit off of both ends, then run the knife down the length of the plantain (being careful not to cut too deep and cut the plantain itself). Make at least 3 or 4 vertical slices. Then you can work on peeling off the skin. If you’re lucky it’ll come off pretty easily. If not, you’re going to have to just slowly pick away at the skin until it comes off (okay, that sounds really gross if you don’t know I’m talking about a plantain).
Also important to note: you must use green plantains for this. If you use yellow/ripe plantains they will have too much moisture in them and they won’t crisp up. They also will taste more like a banana than the green ones.
- 2 green plantains
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3 cups of warm water
- 2 tbsp salt
- Oil for frying
- Additional salt for seasoning
Remove the skin from your plantains, and cut them into about 1 inch rounds. Put enough oil in a frying pan so that it will go about halfway up your plantain rounds (so about a half inch). Once the oil is hot, place your plantains in the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until they start to get darker yellow. While they cook, fill a large bowl with the water, and stir in the salt and smashed garlic.
Once the plantains have been fried on both sides, remove them from the pan, and turn the heat down under the oil. Place them on a paper towel, and then smash them down. I usually use a spatula, but you can use the bottom of a glass or similar flat object. Just don’t use your hands because they are hot.
Once flattened, place them in the bowl of water and let them soak for about a minute. Then remove to the water and place on clean, dry paper towels. Reheat the oil while you dry them. Make sure to pat them dry thoroughly, because as some of us have learned the hard way, water and hot oil do not mix well.
Return the smashed plantains to the hot oil. Cook them for 2-4 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and delicious. You may have to work in batches this time, since they now take up more space.
Once the plantains are done cooking, place them on a paper towel lined plate and salt generously while still warm.
Now that you’ve tried fried plantains you’re going to want to eat them all the time. Try to restrain yourself though; I don’t want to be responsible for the creation of a whole herd of tostone monsters.