Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fried Plantains (Platanos Maduros)

Plantains are larger, starcher cousins of bananas and are the staple food in parts of West Africa and the Caribbean.  Plantains are uglier, longer and have tougher, thicker skins than bananas.  Above on the left, are bananas and on the right is a plantain.  Plantains can be bought at most grocery stores.  Many smaller corner stores that cater to Caribbean or West African residents sell plantains too.  

When they're green and under-ripe, they have a similar taste and be cooked like potatoes.  As they become riper, they become sweeter .  Over-ripe (black), they can be fried or baked into a delicious dessert.  

To fry plantains, peel the plantain and cut into one inch slices.  Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Once the oil is warm, add the plantains.  When the edges of the plantains brown (like on the left) they're done!  You can season with lime juice, pepper or salt if you'd like.

To bake plantains, heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Peel and slice plantains in half length-wise.  Place in a greased pan and sprinkle with oil and a little salt if you'd like.  Bake for 10 minutes.


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