Here’s how to make fried plantains, a traditional favorite in Congo and other tropical countries.
For: 3 servings
- Pick out some plantains. Go to a grocery store or a farmers market. Find the plantains. Get the medium-ripe yellow ones, not the dull brown very ripe ones or the or the green unripe ones. Plantains are fairly new to mainstream American cuisine, so, in the US, look for them at a grocery store that is very big and fancy, in an area with a lot of immigrants, or specializes in foods from a tropical country
- Prepare to cook. Go home. Gather a frying pan, frying spatula, cooking oil (any kind will do; olive oil is suggested--use the cheaper yellow kind for milder flavor), (sharp) knife, butter knife, cutting board, a big plate, and a paper towel.
- Peel the plantains with the knife
- Smooth the butter knife over the plantains to remove any remaining strings or other undesired coating
- Slice the plantain crosswise into circles or any other shape you prefer. The slices should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.5 to 1 cm) thick
- Spread some oil in the pan and heat it. You're going to pan-fry the plantains (pretty safe), not deep-fry them (dangerous). This should take about a minute on medium-high or medium. As usual, there should be noticeable warmth above the pan, but the oil should not be smoking -- if that starts, turn it down.
- Put some plantains into the pan. Just one layer, not crowded against each other
- Fry the plantains. Use "medium" heat; you want the inside to get a chance to soften before the outside burns. Watch them carefully and turn them with the spatula. Keep tossing them until they get a little brown, with some yellow left, not much all over
- Take out the fried plantains. Put them on the plate, on a paper towel to absorb extra oil. If you have more to fry, spread the oil around the pan, add more if necessary, and fry them.
- Accompany and eat the fried plantains. Let them cool and enjoy them with beans, your favorite veggies or just eat them alone.
Make fried plantains for get-together parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other occasions you like.
Allow to cool before eating. The inside can take surprisingly long (or maybe the outside is surprisingly tempting).
Observe the usual cautions when frying.