Tostones aka Patacones aka "The New Chip"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Hubsters is half Colombian so occasionally (admittedly not often enough) I'll make a treat in honor of his heritage, and fry up some plantains.

Called tostones in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and other island cuisines, the very same recipe is called patacones in South American cuisines including Colombian and Peruvian. They are found in various Latin cuisines as mentioned, and also in West African cuisine where they are referred to as either above or simply as "plantain crisps."

The recipe is quite simple and does not vary in preparation throughout cultures. Simply take an unripe green plantain and carefully peel it, exposing the lightly peach colored fruit. Then you twice-fry it and season with salt. Different dipping sauces or toppings vary regionally from the mojo in Puerto Rico and Cuba to simple salsa in Colombia to even cheese or just plain with a sprinkling of salt. They are crispy, starchy with a underlying sweetness, and extremely addicting. It will quickly replace your favorite potato chip or french fry as a side dish for meals. They are also extremely easy to make. A few steps are involved, but if you follow each one you'll end up with a batch of tostones/patacones in under 10 minutes.

Patacones aka "Tostones" aka "Plantain Chips"
2 unripe (green) plantains
vegetable oil
kosher salt

Take each plantain and cut off the ends. Run your paring knife down the length of the plantain, careful not to go too deep, to create a long slit; this will help you peel the tough skin of the plantain. Remove the skin of the plantain and discard. Cut the plantain into 1.5 inch thick slices and set aside. 

Heat enough oil in a non-stick frying pan to cover the bottom of the pan util hot but not smoking. Add the plantain pieces and space them out evenly, careful not to overcrowd the pan. You'll have to do these in batches depending on the size of your frying pan.

Cook on one side about 1-2 minutes or until golden, then flip and cook the other side until golden.

Remove the plantains from the oil and place on a cutting board. Turn the heat off under your oil, but keep the oil in your pan to do the second fry.

Take the flat side of your knife and place it on one piece of fried plantain like this:

Then using the palm of your hand, gently press down to smoosh the plantain into a disk shape.

A slow and gently motion you'll find will work better than smacking the knife down harshly. Conversely, if you own or would want to invest in a plantain smasher, use that for perfect disks (but a knife works just as well). Repeat with the other pieces of plantain until they are all flattened in the disk shape.

Return the heat under your frying pan with the oil. When hot, fry the smashed plantains in the oil a second time, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown. Be careful as they will fry very quickly, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side so don't walk away or else they'll burn! Remove from the oil with a spatula and set on a wire rack to drain. Season both sides immediately with salt.

Serve immediately.

You can serve the plantains as is with just salt, or add a dollop of guacamole or salsa like this:

These are best served right out of the fying pan, but if you have to make then in advance you can keep them warm for 20 minutes in a 275 degree oven.

Check out The Enchanted Spoon for some guacamole recipes that would go great with plantains!


degarrido said...

I'm inspired! The best ones I've ever eaten were in Puerto Rico where they made a little "cup" out of the chip and then filled it with shrimp ceviche! I wanna go BACK!

Mishy said...

Ya, I've seen the cup and ceviche thing too. It's a special tool they use when you smash them to get that cup shape. So like you fry them the first part, then you place them in this tool and pull the lever down and it'll create the cup shape, then you deep fry them for 30 seconds to get them nice and crispy and can fill them with whatever you want. It's a very versatile ingredient really and you can play around with it and the flavors very easily.

degarrido said...

I found one on for $20! Not a kitchen necessity, but certainly a great tool for party fare! Thanks for the tip!