Fried Sweet Plantains

fried plantains 5-10

reviewed Yardie Jerk in Oakland for GraceAnn Walden’s Yummy Report recently, which has me on a fried sweet plantain kick.

Sweet, soft and sticky fried sweet plantains taste almost like a dessert, and go very well with spicy grilled chicken or fish.  They’re good with pretty much anything or with nothing, when you get right down to it.

Plantains, or cooking bananas, are a staple in tropical countries and served multiple ways – kind of like how we use potatoes.  I love them – especially fried.  My Puerto Rican friends in New York used to make tostones for me when I was a kid.  Tostones are twice-fried plantain slices made from green (not ripe or minimally ripe) fruit.  The level of sweetness is dependent upon ripeness.

plantains 5-10

The plantains in the photo are getting nice and ripe, and, if fried slowly in oil that’s not too hot, will get you an exterior with a little texture, as in the photo at the top of this post.  Overripe fruit will turn out very soft and sticky, as in the photo of Yardie Jerk’s version, below.

plantains-yardie

Fried sweet plantains from Yardie Jerk in Oakland

Remember to fry slowly so the sugar caramelizes and you don’t wind up with something like chips, though they’re good, too.  It takes a little practice to deal with the oil.  If it’s way too low, though, you’ll wind up with greasy plantains, and you don’t want that.

Use a cast iron frying pan, if you have one.  The one in the photo at the top is an Erie skillet that’s over 100 years old.  Nothing, but nothing, sticks to that baby.  I like that people were frying things in there before my Grandparents were born, and here I am, with my plantains, in 2010.

Fried Sweet Plantains
   Makes a large plate

3 plantains, very, very ripe (they will have quite a bit of black)
1/2 cup olive or canola oil (you may need more, but this is a good start in a 9 or 10 inch skillet)
Sea or Kosher salt, for finishing, if desired

1).  Wash and dry plantains.
2).  Cut off ends and make a slit through the skin along the entire length, but try not to cut into the flesh.
3).  Roll skin off plantains.
4).  Slice (at a 45 degree angle) into approx. 1/2 inch lengths.
5).  Heat oil in your heavy skillet, but don’t get it too hot.  Test with one slice of plantain.  You want a little bubbling action but not a real sizzle.
6).  Add plantains to pan, but don’t overcrowd.
7).  Fry on one side until you have the color you are looking for, then turn over with tongs.  With overripe fruit you can get a nice, dark color.
8).  When done remove to paper towels and sprinkle a little salt on them, if you want.
9).  Fry remaining slices in batches in similar manner.

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