Look! I am fulfilling my promises in a very timely fashion. Here’s the final new recipe that I am going to provide to you from my Fourth of July Fiesta: tostones. And here’s the promise of great things to come! My next non-Bread Baker’s Apprentice post will be a recap of all the recipes, new and old, that I served at the Fiesta. A compilation post is coming up! Aren’t you excited? I promise that the cheesy “coming soon” palavering ends there.
But let’s get down to business and talk about tostones. Have you ever eaten them? They’re twice-fried, smashed green plantains. And plantains themselves are a sort of giant banana. If you’ve eaten plantains before, I’m curious:
Do you prefer the green ones or the sweet ones?
Myself, being a fan of all things fried and savory, I love fried green plantains (platanos verdes fritos). Prepared in the method I detail below, in which they are fried, smashed, then fried again, they are called tostones or patacones, depending on the regional origin of the cook. Other ways to prepare fried green plantains include chifles and chicharritas (also known as mariquitas). My favorite restaurants in Georgia always had tostones on the menu and mariquitas on the table as appetizers, so that’s what I tend to call them. Call them what you want, but they have a starchy, golden flavor that crunches when you bite into it and melts on your tongue. Call them necessary.
At one of my favorite restaurants in Athens, I used to order tostones. They were always served piping hot from the frying pan, sprinkled with salt, and strewn with tangy salsa criolla. I would burn my tongue in my eagerness to get at them. They were salty, chewy, melty, tangy, crunchy, fresh, herbal, starchy. So many good flavors in such a simple preparation. I would usually eat them as a starter before ordering lomo saltado con pollo.
I first learned to make tostones from my friend, Sara. Sara’s mother was from Colombia, and Sara had learned well in her mother’s kitchen. When we were in college, Sara and I lived very near each other. We often cooked up projects in the kitchen. On one evening, we got together and made black beans and rice. Sara showed to how to fry my beloved tostones. We drank margaritas. We drank more margaritas. We shot tequila. I ended up crawling back home at 2 am.
So for me, tostones are the food of memories. I couldn’t imagine a proper fiesta without them. Just make sure you get really green ones, or your fiesta won’t taste quite right.
Tostones (Fried Green Plantains)
- 2 green plantains
- vegetable oil, for frying
- sea salt
- cilantro, for garnish
- salsa criolla, for serving
Plantains don’t peel as easily as regular bananas, so you will need a really sharp knife. Cut the ends of the plantain off, then score the peel with the knife. Cut through to the flesh of the fruit, but not all the way through. Using the place you scored, use your fingers to peel back the plantain peel. Once the fruit is peeled, slice it into rounds about 1″ thick. Depending on the size of your fruit, you should get between five and eight rounds. Repeat this process with the other plantain. Heat a 1/4″ of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a medium skillet with high sides. When the oil is hot, fry the plantain rounds. Turn once so both sides reach a golden brown, and fry them for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the rounds to a plate to drain. Using a bottle, mug, or small bowl smash the plantains. Do not use a potato masher; you want something that is solid all the way across. Place the instrument of your choosing on top of the round, then press down firmly, with even pressure. You should have a flattened round that is about 1/4″ thick. Flatten your plantains, then fry them again in the oil until the edges begin to crisp, about 2 minutes, turning once.. They should remain a golden brown. Remove to a plate to drain and sprinkle them immediately with sea salt. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Immediately before serving, scatter some salsa criolla over the plantains.