Plantains may look like bananas, but don’t be fooled. They are deceptively un-sweet, much firmer, and are used for cooking. They are never to be consumed atop cheerios, or smothered in peanut butter between slices of bread, and they most definitely do not belong in a chocolate-studded muffin (not that that ever happened to me or anything…). Not to mention, you would probably throw away a banana that looked like a perfectly ripe plantain – they are ready to use when the skin is black!
I fried some plantains to serve with jamaican jerk-seasoned pork chops. Hot, salted, and with a wedge of lime, they were a perfect complement to a Caribbean-spiced main dish. The flavour is starchy and only slightly sweeter than a potato – really not at all what you would expect from something that looks like it donned a Chiquita sticker in its lifetime.
The trickiest part of using plantains (besides mustering up the patience for them to turn black) is peeling them. It’s easiest to cut them into thirds, make a slit the length of the skin, and unwrap it with the aid of a paring knife. Cut it up into quarter-inch rounds, on a bias if you wish, or into lenthwise strips instead. Watch them carefully when frying – they go from perfectly golden to burned in no time.
Plantains, about one per person
Oil, enough to coat bottom of pan
1. Heat oil in skillet for a minute or two over medium heat.
2. Meanwhile, peel and cut plantains into rounds or strips 1/4 inch thick.
3. Fry the plaintains over medium heat, turning to brown on both sides, for 10-15 minutes until golden.
Serve hot with salt and a lime wedge.
Don’t take your eye off your plate, unless you really trust your dining companion!