I grew up eating green plantains almost every day. In Central America these fruits – sometimes considered vegetables – are widely consumed and adored. One can have them boiled and peeled for lunch; thinly sliced and deep fried (called tajadas); or smashed and deep fried (called tostones). They are eagerly devoured on their own, or with the usual cabbage and tomato salad, fried cheese, gallo pinto (stir fried rice and beans), or carne asada (grilled meat).
- You will need very green plantains. Avoid any signs of ripeness because they will be too soft and too sweet.
- To peel them, cut the tips, and cut every plantain in two or three parts. Make a slash on the skin, lengthwise, and peel. Cut in 2 inch round pieces.
- In a saucepan with hot oil, pre-cook the plantains but do not let them color. They should be partially cooked. Remove from the pan and drain in paper towels.
- With the bottom of a glass, a cup, a cleaver, or a stone, press every piece of plantain to make it almost flat. Be careful to not disintegrate them. Reserve. (You can have them ready up to this point, and fry them hours later.)
- When ready to serve, heat the oil, and deep fry the smashed plantain slices until golden. Patacones should be crispy on the outside and soft inside.
- Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve at once.
- If you want to make fried cheese, the way we eat it in Nicaragua, choose a white cheese that does not melt such as queso fresco. Cut in 1 inch squares, roll them in all-purpose flour, and deep fry. Drain on paper towels, like you did with the tostones.
- You can serve patacones as a side dish with any meal, but if you prefer you can eat them with cabbage salad, pickled onions, ribs, beans, and cheese, like I did growing up. It’s a simple yet wonderful combination!