Plantains are the best. I can’t find any information on the Internet that says you can substitute plantains for raw (green) bananas but I would definitely give it a try if you can’t get your hands on these. You won’t want to eat them raw because they leave an awful furry feeling in your mouth but once they are cooked, they are incredible and can become a staple side for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can be cooked many ways but my favourite version is patacones; basically twice-fried plantain ‘hot-chips’ that are crazy awesome crunchy.
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Patacones recipe/technique credits: Luciano & Micaela from Argentina
6 large green plantains
Vegetable oil for frying – enough for the oil level to reach 10cm in your pot
Sea salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a deep wide-bottomed pan.
- Prepare the plantains – top and tail them and score their thick sticky skin lengthways. Peel the skin then slice into 2 cm thick chunks.
- Once the oil has reached optimum frying temperature – you can test this by dropping in one chunk and looking for a steady stream of gentle bubbles forming around it – drop in the patacones in 3 batches. Fry for approximately 4 minutes until they become light golden in colour.
- Place the plantain chunks on a chopping board and squash down each one using the back of a mug until they are about 1/3 of their original size.
- Return them back to the oil for a further 4 minutes of frying until they are a deep golden colour.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and dried oregano and serve with the garlic lemon mayo (recipe below).
Garlic Lemon Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the egg yolk and lemon juice in a blender and blend briefly on a medium speed.
- Keep the blender running and slowly add the oil in a thin and continuous stream until the desired consistency is reached.
- Add the clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Continue blending until the garlic is well incorporated.
Another recipe idea using plantains:
Cut 1 cm slices on an angle and shallow fry them in a little vegetable or coconut oil. Serve with fried eggs, yuca wedges (similar to cassava root/some believe it’s the same thing – can be used to substitute yuca) and guacamole.
MORE ABOUT THE DELICIOUS YUCA (YUCCA) ROOT
Yuca is in close running with plantains for the title of my new favourite ‘carb’. They come in ridiculous shapes and sizes and are found growing at the bottom of decent sized ‘trees’ all over South America. You just yank them out of the ground and after some time spent tediously peeling them they are ready to be transformed into something amazing. A word of warning: due to their high cyanide content you shouldn’t eat yuca raw – luckily the cooking process is sufficient to eliminate their toxicity. There are many ways to cook yuca – think of them as a really starchy potato – you can boil them, mash them, ball them up and fry them with a piece of cheese stuffed in the middle (yuca balls), or cut them into wedges and deep or shallow fry them.