Platanos Fritos

kwanzaaKwanzaa is a holiday celebrating African culture and heritage and begins the day after Christmas and continues for 7 days. On each of the 7 days, a value of African culture is celebrated. A big part of Kwanzaa is the delicious food. Because of this, I was drawn to the book Kwanzaa: an African-American Celebration of Culture and Cooking by Eric V. Copage. Copage talks about mazao (fruits and vegetables) being one of the key parts of celebrating Kwanzaa and representing “the product of unified effort.” (p.xv). So I decided to find something in this category to share in honor of Kwanzaa and my eye caught this recipe for fried plantains.

Several years ago, I was introduced to using plantains when I went to Puerto Rico and tried tostones for the first time. Before this, I had never had plantains. I then learned that different ripeness of plantains are used to create very different dishes. Green, unripe plantains are hard and are used similarly to a potato. Yellow plantains, which look like an extra large ripe banana, are usually fried and eaten in savory dishes. Black plantains are extra ripe and are soft. These kind of plantains are used in desserts and sweet dishes. So make sure that you have the correct ripeness of plantain for this yummy treat.

Platanos Fritos

4 yellow-ripe plantains, peeled and quartered lengthwise

4 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salt (optional)

  1. Combine the plantains, lukewarm water, and salt in a medium bowl. Let it stand for 30 minutes to soften and mellow the plantains. Then drain the plantains well and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the plantains and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the plantains to paper  towels to drain briefly before serving. Season lightly with salt if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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I did not make any substitutions in this recipe. I found that I had to fry the sliced plantains in batches because the pan I had was not large enough. I did not put any additional salt on them because I served them with homemade refried black beans and sour cream. If you choose to eat them on their own in the same manner as french fries, you will most likely want to add a little salt. Seasoned salt would be excellent on them as well. My family loved these. They are slightly soft, but very tasty. They have a slightly nutty flavor and are excellent dipped in beans and sour cream as if they were chips. I hope you enjoy!

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