Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catching up w/the Aussies :: Fried Plantains

Our friend S. was visiting from Sydney and we were lucky to be able to catch up with him and his girlfriend over dinner.  On the menu?  Tilapia en papillote with fried plantains and oozing brown butter plum cake for dessert! 

I love serving fish with fried plantains (or 'tostones'), the plantains crunch and saltiness complement the fish perfectly and you can't help but feel like your in the Carribean! 

Well, the other reason for plantains... after my tortilla experiment, I decided to buy a tortilla press.  And what better use for it than flattening plantains!  These also make a perfect anytime snack, or appetizer when entertaining.  Serve them with a fresh salsa on the side or get creative and serve individually w/ toppings.  My favorite: a top each 'toston' add a smear of creme fraiche, a slice of lox, and sprinkle scallions... yum.

PS:  The tortilla press is currently being stored in the microwave ...I'm sure all of you with a tiny kitchen can appreciate that.  On the bright side, I think I can buy a few more kitchen gadgets now that I discovered how much extra cupboard space you get when you use the microwave and the oven as storage.  Ice cream maker, here I come!  :-)

2 green plantains
Vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Cut the plantain in 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Remove the outer skin with your hands.  I find that it comes off pretty easily once the plantain has been cut into small pieces, if not, use a pairing knife to remove any left behind pieces.

Fill your frying pan with plenty of oil. You want at least 2.5 - 3 inches of depth.  I use a small pan, a saucier, and use a small bottle of vegetable oil.  

Heat the pan on high.  When the oil is bubbling (be careful!) start adding your plantain pieces.  Only add a few at a time making sure to not crowd the pan.  When they just start to brown, remove them from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with a towel to absorb the grease.  Continue with all the pieces.

Now to press!  With a tortilla press, or a plate, lay a piece of the plantains between 2 pieces of parchment paper (or between a ziploc bag if you don't have wax paper) and press! You want the plantain to be about 1/4" thick.  Repeat.

You can set them aside if you are working in advance, the 'just fried' texture makes all the difference so I always do the re-frying fry right before serving. 

Reheat the oil.  When hot, start adding the pressed plantain.  Fry each for a minute or so, until light brown and crispy.  Remove from heat, and use a paper towel to soak the extra oil.  Then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt.

PS: If you want to give them more flavor - you can soak the plantain in a bit of cold water with a few cloves of mashed garlic after the first frying and after pressed.  But be careful to dry them thoroughly before you re-fry!


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