Tag Archives: green plantain

Plantain Little Spiders – Arañitas

10 Dec

This was supposed to be a recipe for Halloween… you know, the play on words – arañitas means “little spiders” in Spanish. Their name is mainly due to their scraggly shape, because they’re fully vegetarian and have nothing to do with the little arachnid creatures. But maybe they’re more appropriately called in English, Plantain Nests, making them a very nice option for Easter too.

This is yet another way Puerto Ricans love to eat green plantain. Variety is the spice of life and there are 1,001 ways we can cook a plantain. Tostones are most popular because they can be prepared in advance. Arañitas is something you need to grate, season and cook immediately. Not for the prep-ahead cook.

You can fry them in oil, just like you do with platanutres or chicharritas de pátano. But I have devised a way to enjoy the goodness of this Puerto Rican favorite without the need to get the deep fryer out. I am Latin, but I do not enjoy having to clean the splatter of a frying pan filled with oil.

Here is how I make arañitas…

PLANTAIN LITTLE SPIDERS – ARAÑITAS

1 green plantain, peeled
1 tbs canola oil
Garlic Salt

 

  1. After you peel the green plantain, grate it in as long strips as possible. I try to grate it on the long side to get longer strips of plantain.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the grated plantain, season with garlic salt and add the canola oil. Mix it all well to ensure the plantain is oiled and well-seasoned all over.

3.  In a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat, place little mounds of plantain. The low heat will allow the plantain mounds to cook on the inside. After a few minutes, you’ll see the outside plantain will start to stiffen and crisp up. Flip when you notice the center of the mound is turning yellow.

see why they could certainly be called nests????

4.  Keep the heat at medium-low. The arañitas will eventually crisp up on the outside and start turning golden brown.

5.  Take them out of the skillet and allow them to drain a bit on a paper towel. They may not drip any oil, but any excess oil is better left on a paper towel.

Serve alongside your favorite Puerto Rican dish – like macarrones with soy picadillo, arroz con gandules or as croutons for a delicious salad.

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Chicharritas de Plátano

15 Aug

While I was in Miami, I got the opportunity to make a true Latin specialty – Chicharritas de Plátano.  This is the way I call them when I am in Miami, because in Puerto Rico these are called Platanutres.  They’re exactly the same, people just call them differently, the same way some people say elevator and others say lift… you get my drift.

But not only these are called differently by Cubans and Puerto Ricans, they’re eaten somewhat differently too.  Puerto Ricans eat platanutres mainly as a snack or maybe even as a side to sandwiches.  However, Cubans eat these little fried slices of plantain as an appetizer, a snack or sometimes even as a crispy side dish to accompany rice and black beans.  Also, they like to serve these with a drizzle of mojito criollo, just like the one I showed you to eat with your boiled yucca, without the onions – just olive oil, garlic , salt and lemon juice.  This is my favorite appetizer in any Cuban restaurant in Miami… and Cuban restaurants in Puerto Rico do not have them.  It’s a Miami thing and I LOOOOOOOOVE it!!

You can get chicharritas bagged, just like potato chips.  I have even talked to you about them in our posts on Junk Food, but the freshly made ones are special.   My aunt Gladys, being the “alcahueta” she is, made me some chicharritas before us leaving Miami.  I wanted to go to a restaurant, but she insisted and I took pictures. 

 

 

CHICHARRITAS DE PLÁTANO

2 green plantains
Kosher salt
Canola oil to fry them in

 

  1. Start by peeling the plantain.  Remember to peel them carefully using an oiled knife to avoid staining your knife.
  2. Slice the plantain very thinly using a slicer or a mandoline.  My aunt uses this nifty slicer.  You can slice it in small rounds, which is the traditional way and the way we did them this time around.  In restaurants you usually see the chips sliced the long side of the plantain.  The choice is yours.
  3. Separate and salt the plantain slices.  I always thought the salt was added after frying, but in fact, I like the taste when they’re salted beforehand.
  4. Bring about an inch of oil to frying temperature in a medium sized pot – about 350° F.  To tell you the truth, I never take the oil’s temperature.  Use the wooden spoon method if you want to be sure.
  5. Drop the plantain slices in small batches and try to separate them as much as possible.  Slices will want to stick together. So try to keep the separate.  Fry them until they’re golden.  Keep an eye on them because they go from perfect to burn easily.
  6. Take them out with a slotted spoon and drain in a paper towel.

 

Enjoy alone, with mojito criollo or as a side dish – I ate them with black beans and rice and slices of avocado on the side.  I love my aunt’s cooking!!!!!

Plantain Tostones

20 Jul

I had already given you a lesson in making tostones when I shared my Tostón Sandwich with all of you.  This time, I want to show those of you who are not familiar with tostones – the traditional way of making them… well, almost traditional because like most of you outside the Latin communities, I do not own a “tostonera” – the implement used to mash the tostones into its traditional shape.  Funny I do not own one, because my dad sells them wholesale.  As they say in Spanish, “en casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo”.

I specify these are Plantain Tostones because tostones can be made from the traditional plantains, or also out of breadfruit.  Tostones (any kind) are a great side dish to many dishes I have shared with you here…   like pastas, rices or even to use as a base for a delicious Antipasto

Here’s how… you need to start with Green Plantains.  Optimally, they need to be large, but very green still.   Here is a picture to give you an idea of the differences in ripeness.

 

 

 

 

 

PLANTAIN TOSTONES

1 green plantain, peeled and sliced in 1-inch rounds
Canola oil, for frying
Garlic Salt for sprinkling on top after they’re fried
  1. In a small skillet, pour about ½ inch of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Check if the oil is ready by inserting the back end of a wooden spoon.  When bubbles form around the spoon, the oil is ready to fry.
  2. This is how you peel a green plantain… chop off the ends.  Make 3-4 slits from top to bottom ends and with the help of a knife and your finger, take the peel off.  Just like with green bananas, if the plantain is too green, the peel will be difficult to take out and refrigeration will not help.
  3. When the plantain is peeled, cut it into rounds about 1 inch thick.
  4. Place about 3-4 plantain pieces in the oil and start cooking.  Do not be tempted to place all plantain pieces in even if they fit… why? Because you need to cook them partially, smash them and then refry them.  If you fry them too much the first time, they might be hard to smash.  You do not want to over-fry them that first time, so the easiest way is to work in small batches.  If you have someone helping you in the kitchen, you might be able to get adventurous enough to put in a few extra…
  5. Take 2 plates, a salad plate and a dinner plate.  Place a plantain piece on the dinner plate and with the bottom side of the salad plate SMASH the plantain piece down.  Peel the tostón piece off with a spatula (it probably stuck to either the bottom of the top plate) to prevent it from breaking apart and return it to the frying oil.  Repeat with all plantain pieces.
  6.                       
  7. At this point… you can either store them in freezer bags and freeze them until you’re ready to eat them or finish them to eat immediately by frying them for the second and last time. 
  8. Fry the tostones until they’re golden brown and crispy.
  9. Take them out of the oil onto a plate lined with a paper towel to catch the oil drippings.  Sprinkle with garlic salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

 

You can also eat them with some butter on top – that’s how my dad likes them…

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…

 

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 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.  

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  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!!!!!

 

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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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