Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegetable of the Day: Fried Plantains with Lime and Garlic

Once a month Justin and I get together with another couple to cook a menu from different countries. So far we have eaten from Indonesia, Thailand, France, and this month was Cuba. I knew very little about Cuban food so I set forth reading cookbooks and websites. I was happy to see that fried plantains came up on the menus! 



 The summer after my first year of teaching I attempted to learn Spanish by going to Central America. My grasp of Spanish is still pretty weak, but I did learn all about tostones, or fried plantains sprinkled with salt, chopped garlic and a hardy squeeze of lime juice. I was addicted to them! Luckily, tostones graced almost every plate of food I ate that summer. They are not very healthy, deep-fried and all, but I couldn't stop from eating that at every meal. I have no self control!

I had to try making these for our get together. They proved to be simple and as delicious as I remembered. Plantains are easy to find in most grocery stores, near the bananas. They were a good deal too! Only about 50 cents each.

These are double fried, but are worth the work! The steps are simple.  I hope you try them. This recipe made enough for 4 adults, but we could have eaten WAY more.

Fried Plantains with Lime and Garlic
4 ripe plantains, the darker the skin the better
3-4 cups vegetable oil
kosher salt
1 lime, cut into wedges
5 (or more!) garlic cloves chopped as finely as you can. I don't recommend the crusher for this job.
Paper towels or paper bag on a cooling rack

1. Pour oil into a large flat bottomed, high sided pot. Begin to heat over medium heat.
2. Peel the plantain by slicing through the skin with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut off the ends and peel. It looks just like a banana inside!
3. Cut fruit into 1 inch sections
4. Test if the oil is hot enough by gently dropping one piece of plantain into it. If it begins to bubble immediately the oil is hot enough.
5. Fry in batches so that they are not crowded. Flip after about 1 minute or until browned. When plantain is browned on both sides remove to paper towel or paper bag to drain. Turn heat down on oil.
6. Once they have cooled, take a spatula or a measuring cup and sqwish each plantain section into a flat disk. Begin to heat oil again.
7. Once oil is hot again, refry until plantains are browned and crispy.
8. Remove to paper towels. While they are hot sprinkle with salt and garlic cloves.

Serve with lime wedges and more salt. They will disappear fast!

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