The Mighty Plantain – Tostones

You have fried green tomatoes? You got nothing on us; we have fried green bananas! You have refried beans? You got nothing on us; we have twice fried bananas! We have THE MIGHTY PLANTAIN, green and not as sweet as its yellow cousin, but still considered a symbol or wealth, power, and virility up to the late nineteenth century. Immortalized in many still life paintings as an embodiment of luxury, it had evolved from humble origins to the tables of the elite before gravitating down to our plates.

Why did Chiquita Banana go North?  First she went West, from her birthplace in West Africa to the new colonies in South America in fifteenth – sixteenth centuries, together with thousands of African slaves. Cheap and filling, plantanos quickly became a staple, joining cassava, yuca, and corn in slave menus. Thousands of plantains were imported to Latin America and the Caribbean, and eventually, in the beginning of 19th century, to the United States. A rarity and a luxury at first, they were surrounded by a mysterious aura of strength and virility, perhaps caused by exaggerated images of plantation workers’ physic. I guess nobody told those pampered banana gourmands that nutrition should be combined with physical exercise, and the slaves’ exceptionally powerful physic was due to hard work rather than to a plant-based diet.

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With the end of slavery, “slave foods” became popular among the general population and plantanos became plentiful and accessible to all. Banana moved from a paining on the wall of a wealthy home to our plates. Still, it retained some of the old mystique.

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Andy Warhol’s banana sticker designed for an album of the group Velvet Underground became as famous as his major paintings. And when T.G.I.Friday crowned hamburgers with grilled plantains, it became obvious: THE MIGHTY PLANTAIN has arrived!

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Tostones, or Banana Crisps, as they are still called in West Africa, are usually served with either peppery or garlicky dips. I do it a little differently. Garlic is certainly present here, and so is balsamic vinegar, but I use both to imbue my tostones with flavor while they are frying.

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First, though, we need to fry them the first time – remember, they are twice fried! Only I don’t do it; I cheat. I nuke them. You need to cut off both ends and slice the skin lengthwise, making sure you reach the flesh inside but not cut all the way through. Then you microwave them, about 2 1/2 – 3 minutes per plantain. I had a bunch of five, so twelve minutes did it. The skin should turn completely black and quite thin. They will open easily, but be careful! – they are hot, and you have to work with them while they are still hot. Slice each plantain into circles about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick.

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You are supposed to use a professional squishing gadget called tostonera, but I am doing just fine with a flat side of my trusty meat tenderizer. The goal is to flatten each piece into a thin disk, and you can accomplish it easily with any flat kitchen utensil or a bottom of a jar. Again, you have to do it while your mighty plantain is still hot, otherwise it will resist. It’s not called mighty for nothing!

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And then you just fry those disks on a lightly misted frying pan, together with sliced garlic. It takes only a couple of minutes on each side, and before you remove them from the pan, sprinkle them with salt and balsamic vinegar and give them one more toss.

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Hot tostones will be a great appetizer on their own, topped by those delicious chunks of garlic, served on a bed of greens with some fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.  But they are just as good as a side dish; in fact, they are often served with ceviche (for recipe, please click here) or any other fish and seafood dishes. Amazingly, they are also great cold, and if you have any of them left (which I doubt!), you can pack them into your lunchbox as a healthy and filling snack.

INGREDIENTS

  • Green (unripe) plantains
  • Garlic cloves, one or two cloves per one plantain
  • Balsamic vinegar to drizzle
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Cut both ends of plantains, slice skin lengthwise, deep enough to cut through the skin but not the flesh. Microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes per each plantain. Skin will turn black, soft, and thin.
  • While hot, open skin, cut plantain into 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick circles. Pound each circle flat with a flat utensil or bottom of a jar.
  • Preheat and lightly mist frying pan to medium heat. Peel garlic, cut into thick chunks. Fry plantain disks and garlic chunks together for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. When ready, sprinkle salt and drizzle balsamic vinegar. Quickly toss and remove.
  • Serve hot on bed of greens garnished with fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

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76 Comments Add yours

  1. randyjw says:

    The way you wrote that made me laugh. Looks yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad I made you laugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. randyjw says:

        Thanks! I needed that! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now I am even more glad!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. feistyfroggy says:

    I’ve always wondered what to do with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pound them flat and eat them – what else? Actually, there are many more things that could be done, but this is the easiest.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. [ Smiles ] A nice, delicious vegan recipe!

    Like

  4. Awesome and ❤️ It. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Meow meow to you Dolly dear

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t had plantains in so long. I need some. These look tasty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I am glad you like the recipe. I just looked at your blog, and I love your desserts! I am glad I found you.

      Like

      1. Thanks you and my husband! He guilts me into making him food and especially desserts!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. LOL My husband doesn’t “guilt me” but he simply expects desserts, so I have no choice!

        Like

  6. Jasmine S. says:

    I just learned SO much!! This looks really good! I’ve only had plantains a few times when I lived back in Houston and they were so delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Jasmine! Just make sure you get green plantains, not yellow bananas – they are different.

      Like

  7. Great way of preparing these little nibbles. Love the addition of Balsamic vinegar! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ronit! To be honest, I hate people dipping and dripping on my tablecloth, so I drizzled it straight on the plantains, and it worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the story and great recipe too, thank you :)x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG! Your recipe looks amazing! My hubby cooks his plantains from his mother’s Chilean recipe and finishes them off with a bit of cinnamon. To die for!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have to try that dash of cinnamon – thank you for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. PriyaPandian says:

    Looks tasty Dolly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bakhitah says:

    Nice read. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it looks sweet already even before i taste it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words – I am glad you like it!

      Like

      1. bakhitah says:

        Ofcourse, i will definately try this out

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope you like it! Please let me know how it comes out.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve seen those huge green bananas at Leicester market and always wondered WHY would anyone buy such an unripe monster. Now it will definitely go into my shopping bag!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they are not unripe regular bananas, they are plantains, and they have to be unripe plantains so you squish them to make sure they are firm.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. lilyandardbeg says:

    Looks really tempting-I’ll try it with asafoetida instead of garlic (I’m not allergic or anything, I just can’t stand the smell).
    As always: your stories are lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! This is funny: you are fine with the smell of asafoetida, but not garlic. It doesn’t have to be garlic; you can spice it any which way you like.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. exoticnita54 says:

    Yayyy!!!
    Plantain… all the way

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jgousseva says:

    Looks like a great recipe! I’ll try it this weekend. We visited Costa Rica recently, and plantains were served there all the time, so now I’m inspired to try. I haven’t tried them with garlic, and I love garlic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I am glad you like it! Usually, they are served with a garlic dip made by squeezing garlic into vinegar or lemon juice, but I dislike dips because someone always drips something on my tablecloth, so I came up with this method. Please tell me

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Please tell me how it came out.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Eartha says:

    Happy New Year, Dolly! 🙂 Love fried green plantains! Yummy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, love! Glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, and Happy New Year to you, too, with many blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Timelesslady says:

    I love plantains fried in brown sugar and butter. They get crispy and sweet, and ummmm….so good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brown sugar – what a great idea! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Dear friend Dolly
    I would like to announce that I nominated you for an award!
    Congratulations!
    Here is the post with your listed as a nominee for the Blogger Recognition Award: https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/blogger-recognition-award-3/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thank you so much for nominating me! It may take a while for me to respond, but I will, and congratulations again! All my love and many blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well deserved Dolly. The award is yours, thanks and glad that you will accept and pay forward in due course

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve been saying that I won’t accept awards any more, but then I don’t want to offend people, so I try to make an effort. I really appreciate your thinking of me; I am just very busy with the beginning of the semester.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No problem Dolly, its yours, so whenever you can will be perfect

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Christina Nifong says:

    I LOVE plantains! Thanks for this commentary and the recipe. So fun! I wanted to reach out and invite you to take a look at my new blog: http://christinanifong.com If you like what you see, please sign up for my weekly email newsletter in the sign up box you’ll find here: http://christinanifong.com/category/blog/
    I have changed platforms and this is how I’m connecting with readers now. Thanks for taking a look!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I will be happy to follow you at the new platform.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Christina Nifong says:

        Thanks so much! Happy to enter a foodie conversation with you here on line! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Gemma Rakia says:

    Great recipe, I love plantain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear Gemma, I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. One of my favourite foods Dolly… always have them in the house.. When I was a child and my father cooked a curry I would always have a big pile on the side of my plate to cool it down.. Terrific health benefits too. hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Sally! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. The January Share and Inspire Others! post released today: https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/january-2017-share-and-inspire-others-appetizers/ Please promote by the latest 20th January, 2017. New theme for February will be announced on the 1st. Hope you will be able to participate again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear Esme! Great job as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your kind words funky cat. A big thank you for your awesome recipes and participation. Check out the new theme on Feb 1.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I certainly will! Have a great weekend, dear!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Such an unexpected honor = thank you so much!

      Like

  23. When I was reading this I got really curious esp when I discovered it was about banana. In Nigeria,I haven’t come across anything like this. This is real creativity and am loving the way you diversify with food. Good job

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Gilly says:

    I think a visit to my my Global Fruits store is needed so I can get some Plantain. This sounds delicious and it means I can control the amount of salt in the recipe. I have had plantain chips from the supermarket and they are way too salty for me. Thanks for the recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Sometimes I don’t even use salt on them but sprinkle low sodium soy sauce instead. Here on South Beach, mixing South American cuisine with Oriental is called fusion! Thank you so much, I am glad you like it!

      Like

  25. jgousseva says:

    I finally made plantains using this recipe! Yay! They were pretty good but a little drier/denser than I would have liked them to be. Yours look juicier on the picture. I’ll try again soon :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have to flatten them real thin and make sure not to overcook. Good luck next time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jgousseva says:

        Mine were kinda fat. Thank you! I will keep experimenting!!

        Liked by 1 person

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