I live near a lot of grocery stores. When I get out of the tube, to the left on the corner is a Sainsbury local and to the right on the corner is a Tesco metro. Just a short walk away from that is a full sized Waitrose – but before I even get to that there are a few small independent market and a new organic market. And the truth is, I go to all of them. If I need something quick I’ll go near the tube. If I want a proper shop I’ll go to Waitrose. And if I’m feeling curious, then the organic market. It’s a little bit of overkill, but when I can’t find an ingredient at one place, it helps to have so many others.
Recently, I discovered yet another place that’s also close to my flat but off the main street. It’s French themed, they bake their own bread, and the place smells amazing. I went there because after going everywhere else I couldn’t find basil for blueberry basil lemonade. They didn’t have basil, but they did have platanos. Platanos in Spanish – plantains in English. And not just green plantains, which I kind find easily enough, but they had perfect, soft, ripe, black plantains. Or, in spanish – platanos maduros.
Now getting excited about wrinkly dark plantains might sound weird. If it was a banana, I wouldn’t eat it and I’d be thinking about banana bread. But dark plantains are my favorite. Why? Because it reminds me of my family. These plantains are so soft and sweet, which green plantains are not. And also, this recipe is so flippin easy to cook. Seriously, if you’ve thought about learning to cook Puerto Rican or Latin American foods this is where to start.
I was also really excited by the plantains because even though I have half a dozen grocery stores at my disposal I have a hard time finding Latin American foods here in London. I’ve done some searching and found there are a few specialty shops – but I still haven’t found anyone that sells Goya brands. How is a girl supposed to live without her pinto beans and arroz con gandules?! So anyway, it’s nice when I can find the ingredients and flavors that remind me of home cooking from my parents.
It is easy to double or triple this recipe, just buy as many plantains as you want. I used two plantains and that makes about 3 servings if everyone has 4 slices. This recipe is best right after cooking, but the plantains are just fine reheated in the microwave the next day. Eat as a snack, or serve with a big plate of rice, beans, and arepas.
Messy level: This is the lowest maintenance cooking and cleaning ever. You need two ingredients, a knife, a cutting board, and a pan. One spoon all the way.
- 2 plantains
- vegetable oil
- Cut both ends off the plantains. Using a knife, score the skin lengthwise on two sides. Then, slowly peel the skin off the plantains. Plantains don't peel like bananas, so these instructions are important and will help you easily get the skin off.
- Cut the plantain flesh into slices on the diagonal. [I don't know why this is the established method, you could do it lengthwise or in coins, but for some reason it's always done this way.]
- In a large pan, heat about ¼ inch of oil on medium-high heat. Heat until the oil is very hot. Test this by flicking a little water into the oil. If it pops and sizzles then your oil is ready.
- In batches, add the plantains to the oil. (I did about 6 slices at a time) It's important to do this in batches so you don't make the oil temperature drop too much.
- Fry the plantains for about 2-4 minutes on each side. They are done when they are a little bit browned and look kind of caramelized.
- Remove plantains from the pan and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. This is done to drain off any excess oil.
- Serve and eat!