While I married into an Indian family, I also have a bit of Latino blood in me (okay, not actually, but you get my drift here). When I was a junior in high school (oh, it seems so long ago!), I spent a year in Quito, Ecuador as a foreign exchange student. I learned to salsa, appreciate the kiss-hello, and eat a variety of foods that I had previously never tasted.
Among the numerous new foods I experienced that year was the plantain, a type of banana. My host mother, who is a fabulous cook, made delicious plantain empanadas from a mix of plátanos verdes y maduros (green and mature/ripe). I also remember eating the green plantains fried as crispy chips. Before going to Ecuador, the only banana I knew was the kind found in my local grocery store (which, ironically, came from Ecuador).
Over the years, I have eaten plantains in a variety of Latin American countries, as well as at some local Caribbean restaurants, and they always taste like heaven. And they always remind me of my time in Ecuador (smile!).
Until recently, I had never purchased or cooked plantains. For some reason, I felt intimidated by those large bananas (maybe because they can only be consumed cooked?). I finally worked up the courage to buy a couple and then Googled “fried plantains” for some cooking assistance. Turns out they are not so difficult to prepare.
For the ripe preparation, it is important to let them fully ripen on the countertop until they look black and brown. They are also much sweeter this way. Then just peel, slice, and fry in hot coconut oil. Plantains are usually cut on the bias (diagonally) in thick chunks, but I like mine sliced fairly thin so that they are a bit crispy on the outside. As I said before: heaven.
- 2 overripe plantains, peeled and sliced to desired thickness
- coconut oil (1/2-1 cup)
- Heat 1/2 cup coconut oil in a large skillet until hot. The oil should cover the entire bottom of the pan and deep enough to cover half the thickness of the plantains.
- When oil is very hot, place plantain slices carefully into the skillet. Let cook for a few minutes, or until you can see that they are browning around the edges.
- Turn them over and cook the other side until browned.
- Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel-lined plate.
- Wait for them to cool down. You won’t want to wait, but trust me. Just wait a minute or two.
- You can also sprinkle a little salt on these for a sweet and savory treat. Heaven!