Tostón Sandwich

19 Mar

I am sooooo proud of Iván Avilés…  he was the winner in the Comfort Foods episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, a new Food Network cooking competition where regular cooks, just like you and me, compete to see who has the Ultimate recipe in a series of categories.

And why I could be proud of Iván specifically??  He’s Boricua (another word for Puerto Rican, derived from Borinquen, the original indigenous name of Puerto Rico) and he won with his Boricua Plantain Sandwich.  It’s not vegetarian, but it did remind me of a sandwich my friend Tania taught me how to make a few years back.  I was so surprised to see Iván use TOSTONES as the “bread” for the sandwich, something I had only seen Tania do.

Tostones (which are also called patacones in South America) are twice fried mashed green plantains.  Tostones are a staple in Puerto Rican cooking and for people trying to “get away from the carbs” are a great bread substitution in this sandwich.  But less carbs does not mean less fat – I did tell you these are TWICE FRIED, no?

Let me give you the play by play to making my vegetarian version of the Tostón Sandwich…

 

 sand-toston-copy.jpg

 

 TOSTON SANDWICH

1 green plantain, peeled
2 small strips of firm tofu – you can definitely used extra firm here, but never the silken kind
1/4 onion, sliced
Garlic Salt
1/4 cup Tamari Sauce
Ketchup
Canola Oil for frying

 

  1. Take the tofu pieces and press them in between 2-3 good paper towels or napkins (I use Bounty) to drain away most of the liquid.  I place then in between 2 small baking sheets and weigh using something heavy.  I change the paper towel at least once.  meanwhile…
  2. Peel the green plantain.  Remember that green plantains, just like green bananas, have a sap (mancha).  Remember to oil the knife you’re using to peel the plantain so the sap does not adhere to the knife.  Follow the method I showed you for the green bananas here.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat about 1 cup of canola oil over medium high heat.   Just make sure the skillet is wide enough that will fit your plantain.  If your plantain is on the small side, by all means, use a smaller skillet.  You need enough oil to cover the plantains halfway, more or less. 
  4. Cut the plantain in half lengthwise, making two long halves.
  5. Make sure the oil is hot enough.  Rachael Ray taught me to dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil.  If the oil bubbles around the spoon, the oil is ready.  I love this tip.
  6. Fry the plantain halves for about 5 minutes.  What you’re looking for is to cook the plantain, add some color to it, but without getting it crispy.
  7. Take the partially fried plantain halves out of the oil and using either two heavy plates or two small baking sheets, smash them flat.   If using baking sheet, place a kitchen towel on top so the heat does not transfer to your hand.  Keep the oil in the hot stove, you will use it again.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of this, but I was by myself making this and I could not smash and photograph at the same time.  This is the already-smashed plantain…
  8. After smashing the plantains, re-immerse the smashed plantain halves in the hot oil to finish frying. 
  9.  

    12.jpg

  10. This time, the end result should be a golden and crispy plantain halve – this is a Toston.  Tostones typically are made the exact same way with the exception that instead of being cut lengthwise, you cut the plantain in 1 inch round slices.
  11. Drain the finished tostones on a paper towel and sprinkle some garlic salt to season them.  Keep the aside while you make the fillings.  They need to cool off a bit if you don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth.
  12. Drain the skillet of the hot oil CAREFULLY and in that same hot skillet with some of the remaining oil on it,  place the drained tofu pieces and the onion slices.  The object of this is to smother the onions and to cook the tofu and for it to dry out a bit.  Add some garlic salt to the onions to season them.
  13. When tofu slices have gained some yellowy color (they will not change color very dramatically), dunk them in the tamari sauce for a few minutes.  Return them to the skillet to finish “frying”.
  14. Now we assemble – Place the wider tostón half on a plate, place tofu pieces, squirt some ketchup, place smothered onions, squirt some extra ketchup and top with the remaining tostón half. 

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Mmmmmm!!!!!

 

 10.jpg

 

I have also made this with fried white cheese instead of the tamari-marinated tofu.  It tastes delicious!!!  If you fry the tostones in hot enough oil and drain them, they will be crunchy, but not oily.

I had not done this sandwich in a long time… so I thank Iván and the Ultimate Recipe Showdown for reminding me.   And even it’s not vegetarian, you can taste an adaptation of Iván’s sandwich at your local TGIFriday’s restaurant.  They’re made with sweet ripe plantains, which is a different “ball game”, but still you can come out and support my fellow Boricua!!!

 

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9 Responses to “Tostón Sandwich”

  1. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen March 20, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    That is way cool! I love that you used the plantains as bread – it looks amazingly good and tastes even better I am sure!

    I love the ideas behind your blog. I am not vegetarian, but we eat very little meat and the meat we do eat has to have a lot of qualifications before we eat it – but our intake has been less and less.

    However, I do agree with your philosophy completely and it is great to see blogs like yours out there!

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll! :)
    Hope to see you on the forum! – we are getting more and more people with the same ideals on there.

  2. Kathleen March 20, 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    Wow that looks great!

  3. LisaRene April 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    This is without a doubt the most unique vegetarian sandwich I have ever seen. Wonderful! I too am a lacto-vegetarian. I’ll never understand why meat-eaters think all we eat is salad, I find that we vegetarian’s cook far more interesting meals then our meat eating peers.

  4. Hortencia Piedra June 17, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    You have hit on a trend that is slowly making it’s way from the Latino communities to non. Plantains are DELISH and as a Latina have had them for, well, I can’t even count. There is a Chef, I believe his name is Chef DonClark. He is being talked about as the plantain man. Check him out. As for another way — you can mold the plantain into cups and top with anything.

  5. Kathleen July 24, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    Just wanted to add that I have been using that trick w/the wooden spoon ever since I read it on your blog! Great tip!!

    KFC – Glad to know it has helped you… it really helped me when I learned about it from our friend Rachael Ray!!!

  6. Melissa August 12, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    wow – good idea – thanks

  7. moncheoPR January 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    ¡Que rico! I love how you added the tamarind to the tofu. The salty tostones, sweet onions, and tangy tamarind must be deliciously awesome.

    Love your blog BTW.

  8. SandyCastle August 5, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    This amazing sandwich is called a “jibarito” here in Chicago. There is a great Puerto Rican restaurant called Borinquen that serves these up anyway you like. My favorite is the steak jibarito with cheese, lettuce, grilled onions and tomatoes. The fried platano is lightly salted with sauteed garlic pieces clinging to the top. It’s served with arroz con gandules. There is a vinegar that the restaurant bottles with hot peppers and other spices. You can shake a little on the sandwich or the arroz – and the combination is amazing! I like to think that this is the Puerto Rican version of the Mexican torta sandwich. When I visited New York and asked for one in a P.R. restaurant they had no idea what I was talking about.

    • KarmaFree Cooking August 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      sandycastle… i know!!! If you ask for one here in PR, they will look at you funny too. A Jibarito, to us, is just a man from the country. Kinda like what you would call in English a hillbilly. And the vinegar with hot peppers, we call it “Pique”!!! I do not eat it, as I am a spice wimp, but it’s very typical. Madelyn.

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