Monday, February 14, 2011

Fried Plantains

While in Koreatown with Andrew and Lauren I bought some plantains. 
Judy and I recently had plantains at Dhat Island, a Caribbean restaurant in Redlands, and we'd also had some at Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles. I wanted get more familiar with them. 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die says that plantains area a "kind of banana that can only be used for cooking." 
They have a "starch level that renders them unappealing until heat converts it into sugars." 1001 states that frying brings the sweetness out best, fried plantains being a Latin American and Caribbean side dish, usually with rice and beans. The peel is more difficult to get off then our traditional banana, 
but I was surprised when I took several tastes of the raw plantain that it wasn't too bad. 
I tried some unripe manzanos banana the day before and it was horrible - I had to spit it out. I was expecting this to be similar. It was relatively sweet and moist. What surprised me was the color of the inside of the plantains. It had some darkness in the center, but a hue of pink and yellow that was quite pretty (the picture below does not bring it out very well). 
A number of recipes I looked at called for frying the plantain in boiling oil. However, I found one that suggested that frying it in a little bit of oil worked just as well, then to add some brown sugar and water. I sliced the plantains into quarters, widthwise, then shortened the length. I fried them in olive oil and they started to turn a deep yellow and get some browning on them. 
I then poured a mixture of a half cup of brown sugar and half cup of warm water into the wok 
and fried the plantains until most of the moisture was gone. 
I thought they turned out very well. In fact, I liked them better than those we'd eaten at the restaurants - probably because of the added sugar. 

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