When I was in college, a friend of mine took me to a small Cuban grocery store with a small cafeteria in the back. The cafeteria was strangely located next to the laundry detergent and cleaning supplies area and thus always smelled clean and fresh! When we were there, my friend ordered fried plantains. They smelled incredible, so I tried one and instantaneously fell in food love. Now, I try to eat fried plantains whenever I have the opportunity to do so. My favorite are the ones that are fried to the point of dark golden brown, with little burnt, caramel-y bits. They are incredible!
When plantains are sold at the grocery store, they are often bright green in color. They can be cooked at this point and made into a preparation known as ‘tostones’ but they will not be the sweet and salty treat that food love is made of. In order to get them to that point, they need to ripen. They ripen painstakingly slowly, especially when you want to eat them right away. They must ripen until they are dark–far darker than a banana should ever be allowed to get. In the picture above, you see that the banana has spots of yellow, but is largely dark black–that is perfect. Once you peel them (this requires a sharp knife) the plantain is perfectly yellow on the inside. I prefer oblong slices, because it gives more surface area for burnt bits to develop. Then they are cooked, sprinkled with salt, and devoured. To make the plantains a bit more special, I made a yogurt based dipping sauce. It was sweet and spicy and tart and creamy and a delicious foil to the sticky, sweet, saltiness of the plantain. It would be even better if made with creme fraiche! If you’ve never had plantains, please try them to allow yourself to fal l in food love. They are incredible! Enjoy!
Fried Plantains with Lime-Honey-Chipotle Dip
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: serves 4 as a snack||Total:|
Delicious, sweet, caramelized fried plantains with a creamy lime-honey-chipotle yogurt dip.
- For the plantain:
- 1 large plantain, fully ripened (should have mostly black skin)
- Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- For the dip:
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche, or yogurt
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. powdered chipotle pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. lime zest
- 1 pinch dried epazote (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Make the plantains:
- Using a sharp pairing knife, carefully chop off the very top and bottom of the plantain. With the same knife, carefully cut 2 or 3 vertical slits in the skin of the plantain. Peel the plantain, being careful not to gauge out any of the flesh. Cut the plantain into 1/2 inch thick slices on a 45 degree angle.
- Heat a heavy bottomed cast iron pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in about 1/2 inch of oil and heat until you can feel heat coming off the oil. Add the plantains to the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and darker on the edges. Place on a coiling rack on top of a few paper towels to drain and crisp up. Sprinkle with salt.
- Make the dip:
- Mix all of the ingredients together and add salt to taste. Serve with the fried plantains.