Okay…I am officially a fan of plantains! Buying produce in the Bahamas can be hit or miss, yet I can always find plantains.
If you have had the good fortune to travel in the Caribbean or Latin America, you might have already tried a local plantain dish. We’ve enjoyed double-fried tostones in Cuba and baked plantain wedges in Ecuador, but until now I had never tried to prepare them myself.
Is it a plantain or banana?
The trick is to make sure you are actually buying plantains and not green bananas. Plantains are larger than a banana with a thick, hard to remove peel. Plantains need to be cooked while bananas are usually peeled and eaten raw. Bananas are traditionally sold in bunches while plantains are sold individually.
Plantains - the perfect vegetable
- no refrigeration required
- versatile - can be cooked at every stage of ripeness
- naturally gluten free
- naturally sweet when fully ripe (peel is black)
- sold in most grocery stores - whether you are in the Caribbean or in Colorado
Cooking plantains at every stage of ripeness
Green plantains - They are harvested when they are green and the flesh is very starchy and somewhat bland. At this point you can cook them just as you would a potato – boil, fry, or even mash them.
Medium-ripe plantains - Most people prefer to let them ripen several days until they their skin becomes yellow and their flesh sweetens. They will still be firm, but have a mild flavor- just perfect for frying into chips.
Ripe plantains - After a week to ten days the plantains will become totally black. The starches will have converted to sugar, so they will caramelize when cooked. To make a simple dessert, cut off the ends and wrap them in foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, then unwrap and unzip them from their skin to eat.
Plantain Chips with Sriracha Yogurt Dip
- 2 medium-ripe plantains (turning yellow with some black)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Salt to taste
Sriracha Yogurt Dip
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce , or to taste
- Stir together yogurt, lime juice and Sriracha sauce. Chill.
- Peel the plantains by cutting off ½-inch from each end. Make four slices down the length of the plantain skin, turning a quarter of the way with each cut. Peel each portion of the skin away.
- Cut plantains diagonally into ¼- ½ -inch thick slices.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, coat with half of the oil, then arrange half of the plantain slices in the pan.
- Fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Turn the plantain slices as they brown, adjusting the heat so that they have time to soften as they cook. Keep a close eye on them during frying because the natural sugars in plantains can lead to scorching.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt, then repeat with the second batch. Frying in two batches prevents them from becoming too crowded in the skillet.
- Serve with Sriracha Dip.