Your Sunday Meal Is Here: 4 Ways to Prepare Plantain Around the World

by Immaculate Ruému

So we all know what bananas are, but how about plantains? You know those green, sometimes yellow, or perhaps black/brownish banana looking things you’ve seen maybe once or twice. Are you from an African country, some parts of Asia, Latin America, or the West Indies? Chances are that you are already quite familiar with plantains. If not, please allow me to take you on a journey with four ways to prepare plantain around the world!

Plantains are of the same species as bananas but unlike the popular sweet fruit, the plantain is a vegetable. One that is typically cooked just like you would a potato. Yes, that’s it… plantains are the bridge between a potato and a banana. Although it is debatable that you “cannot eat plantain raw”, allow me to let you in on a secret. Every kid that grew up eating plantain, like myself, has (out of impatience) munched on slice of ripe plantain whilst waiting for the cooking to be done.

I don’t want to go into childhood tales here, but rather, let me give a few facts about plantains:

  1. Plantains are not bananas.
  2. If you can “potato it”, there is a high chance that you can “plantain it”.
  3. According to worldmapper.org, West African countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria are some of the top 10 leaders of plantain production in the world.  Amongst other producers, are Asian and Latin American countries such as the Philippines and Peru.

Added Note: You can also find plantains as a source for alternative flour in gluten-free baking and cooking.

Now that we’ve gone through the basics… Below are some of the most well-known plantain dishes from different parts of the world. Recipes are included for you to try:

 

Puerto Rican Mofongo:

This traditional Puerto Rican dish is a hearty meal that is worth the effort. Mashed plantain can play the role of the main dish, as well as a great side dish. Enjoy this plantain recipe for a virtual trip to mouthwatering paradise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 green plantain
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp cooked bacon bits or pork crackling
  • Pinch of salt & black pepper
  • 500g vegetable oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Peel the skins off the plantain by cutting off the top and bottom, then make a long slit vertically. Push your thumb through the slit to peel away the skin and remove the plantain.
  2. Prepare plantain by cutting into large chunks (about 1 inch each)
  3. Pour oil into a pan (oil should be at least 2 inches deep) and place on a stove over medium-high heat (if you have a stove/cooker with number 1-5, medium-high heat is a 4).
  4. Once the oil is hot (about 175 – 180 degrees celsius), add the chopped plantains and fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove the plantain from the hot oil (switch off your stove/cooker) and place on a paper towel to drain the excess.
  6. In a bowl or a mortar, add the chopped garlic and fried plantain (a few at a time, if using a small bowl or mortar), then mash with a pestle or potato masher until it’s all mixed together.
  7. Create a space in the middle, add the bacon bits or pork cracklings, then continue mashing until it all comes together.
  8. Now the Mofongo is ready. Simply shape as desired. You can do this by forming a ball with your hands or by pressing it into a small greased bowl and tap onto a flat plate to create a half-dome shape.
  9. Serve while it is still hot alongside your preferred protein.

 

Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet plantain:

Most Jamaicans know them as ‘Sweet Plantains’ but ‘Dodo’ is the Nigerian name for this delight. It is also the renowned accompaniment for the famous West-African jollof rice. This plantain recipe is most popular across West-African countries and the West-Indies.

Plantain around the world - Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet PlantainsPlantain around the world - Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet PlantainsPlantain around the world - Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet Plantains

Ingredients:

  • 1 Ripe yellow plantain
  • 500g vegetable oil for frying
  • A pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • A pinch of coarse or Maldon salt (optional)

Instructions:

  1. To peel the skins off the plantain, start by cutting off the top and bottom, then make a long slit vertically. Push your thumb through the slit to peel away the skin and remove the plantain.
  2. Prepare the plantain by cutting diagonally to make several long slices, then set aside. You can season with salt now before frying or season with salt after frying.
  3. Place a pan over medium-high heat and pour in the vegetable oil.
  4. Let the oil get hot (should take about 2 minutes). Place in one slice of plantain and if it bubbles then it’s hot enough to add all the plantain slices. (If you don’t see the bubbles immediately, wait a couple more minutes for the bubbles to form before adding more slices of plantain).
  5. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then turn each slice to the other side and fry for another 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Once done, remove the plantains from the hot oil using a perforated spoon. Transfer onto a plate with a paper towel to drain excess oil. (Remember to turn the heat off from the hot oil).
  7. Serve hot. Lastly, sprinkle some coarse or Maldon salt over (optional).

 

Ghanian Kelewele (Spicy fried plantain recipe):

This is a spicier version of fried sweet plantains. This popular Ghanaian snack or side dish saves you from throwing away very ripe plantains. If they have dark spots and are nearly going bad, just chop them into bites size, toss with spices, fry, and enjoy. Typically serves as a snack with peanuts or as a side dish to many rice and/or bean based meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow/black-spotted very ripe plantain
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 500g vegetable oil for frying.

Instructions:

  1. Peel and remove skins from the plantain by cutting off both ends and making a long slit down the middle without penetrating the flesh of the plantain. Then push through the skin to remove the plantain.
  2. Split the plantain in half from top to bottom vertically, then cut each half diagonally into small pieces and set aside.
  3. Mix all the spices and seasonings together in a small bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the spice mix over the chopped plantain and gently mix together. Set aside.
  5. Heat up a large pan of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot (roughly takes 2-3 minutes)
  6. Gently pour in the seasoned plantains and fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally to fry all sides.
  7. Remove the plantains from the hot oil using a perforated spoon. Transfer onto a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. (Remember to turn the heat off from the hot oil)
  8. Serve hot.

 

Nigerian Kpekere (Plantain chips):

This is another popular Nigerian plantain dish. It is a common street food across the country. This plantain recipe is an essential ingredient in Nigerian cooking. Similar to the Puerto Rican Tostones, these deep-fried green plantains are great to snack on during work, studying, on the road, chilling, or when taking a break.

Ingredients:

  • 2 green plantains
  • 500g vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt to taste.

Required Utensil: Mandolin slicer

Instructions:

  1. Peel and remove skins from the plantains by cutting off both ends and making a long slit down the middle without penetrating the flesh of the plantain. Then push through the skin to remove the plantain.
  2. Over a flat plate, hold a mandolin perpendicular to your body, then hold one whole piece of plantain and set it over the mandolin, just before the blade.
  3. Slide the plantain forward and backward to cut really thin slices, repeat and stop once the plantain is almost as small as a thumb. If your mandolin comes with a guard, you can switch to using it now and slice what is left of the plantain. If not, save the last chunk for something else.
  4. Heat up a large pan of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot (roughly takes 2-3 minutes)
  5. Gently pour in the sliced plantains and fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally to fry all sides.
  6. Remove the plantains from the hot oil using a perforated spoon. Transfer onto a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. (Remember to turn the heat off from the hot oil)
  7. Sprinkle with salt, allow to cool, and serve. You can also store the plantain chips in jars to snack on later.

 

Other popular plantain dishes:

  • Tostones – Twice fried plantains popular in Latin America and in the Caribbeans
  • Alcapurria – Meat stuffed fried plantain dumplings popular in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama.

 

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