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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tostones (Puerto Rican Fried Plantains)

A few nights ago, my wife and I went to our niece’s house an evening that included dinner and playing some board games. Because our niece was hosting, she provided the dinner and we brought a green salad and the game: Ticket to Ride - Europe.

When we arrived, our niece plied us with some assorted green olives for appetizer while she finished the dinner. She quickly applied a homemade jerk rub to the talapia fillets and placed them in the oven to bake. Next, she surprised us by making Tostones as side dish to accompany the fish.

Even though we took a trip to Puerto Rico in 2003, we had never experienced Tostones. The recipe is very easy to make. She started with four green Plantains and cut them on the diagonal into one-inch thick pieces. Next, she fried the pieces in about 1/2-cup of oil until each side was lightly browned.

She removed the pieces from the pan and placed them to drain on some paper towel. The next step was highly technical: one at a time, she placed the cooked piece on a small saucer and smashed it flat with a drinking glass. With all the pieces flattened, she put them back in the oil for a second cooking. Once the pieces cooked to a nice golden brown, she removed them from the oil to drain and sprinkled on some sea salt for flavoring.

Unlike green Banana’s, green plantains are treated like a starch instead of a sugar. The first cooking softens the pieces so they can be smashed. The second cooking is like frying a piece of potato to make French fries: it cooks the piece through and browns the starch.

I checked a recipe on-line and it suggested dipping the pieces in water between the first and second frying. Don’t do that, water and hot oil do not mix! One person wrote that when she lived in Puerto Rico, her family would soak the pieces in salt water between frying to preserve the pieces while making a complicated meal. That allowed the initial frying to be completed before the main meal activities, then just before serving, they would drain the water and blot the pieces before the second frying.

Our niece had purchased some Jufran Banana Sauce for dipping the Tostone pieces with dinner. This sauce is like a sweet catsup with a slightly runnier consistency.

We had a great meal with the jerked tilapia, green salad, and Tostones. The fish was cooked to perfection, but the real hit were the Tostones. They were like eating a piece of fried potato, but lighter to the taste and the sauce was a nice addition without being too sweet or overloading the flavor of the Tostones.

Ticket to Ride EuropeAfter dinner we played several games of Ticket to Ride – Europe, a little dessert, and then our niece taught us a new card game which we enjoyed playing several hands.

Desert was a piece of white cake (cooked in a bunt pan) with a homemade blueberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. This dessert was very good and it was hard to not lick the plate when I finished (after all, we were with family).

We enjoyed our evening of dinner and games. It was fun to experience a new dish we typically would not try to cook ourselves. I look forward to the next game night, and seeing how our niece will surprise us with another new recipe.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the menu for this meal. It all looks delicious and I cannot wait to surprise my children with tostones at a future dinner.