Plantains not your everyday banana

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You may have been among those who have asked what is a plantain

You should not feel embarrassed if you have asked what is a pantain

ripe plantain
Not your everyday banana

because it is not commonly available in north American supermarkets.  We find  this surprising because it is such an integral part of tropical foods from Thailand across Africa to Latin America.

Plantains are a member of the banana family but unlike the banana most are accustomed to eating the plantain is too fibrous to be eaten raw.  They need to be cooked to be enjoyed.  Fried, twice fried, baked, stewed or boiled are all preparations used for plantains.

Green or ripe is another distinction to consider in how to prepare your plantain.  Like all  fruits the plantain sweetens as it matures

twice fried plantain

so green plantains are used more as a vegetable style preparation and ripe ones more as a dessert.

One of the most popular preparation of plantains is a twice fried preparation that goes by several names including patacones and tostones .  This is a simple yet delicious preparation of green unripe plantains where they are sliced and fried in oil.  After the first frying they are smashed as close to flat as possible and then refried. They are typically salted and served like a french fried potato most often with ketchup.

Adding a bit of sweet to savory soups, stews and vegetable dishes is another classic use of plantains because they are sweet but not overbearingly so they add a unique twist of flavor.  They are most commonly found in bean, chickpea, lentil and pigeon pea stews where they add just the right amount of sweetness to brighten up these savory dishes.

Ok so I held the best for last like everyone does at dinner, desserts!

fried plantains
Sweet goodness

For these plates the riper the plantain, the better.  The first question that you need to answer is how sweet is sweet enough?

Simply frying a ripe plantain caramelizes the natural sugars and makes a tasty sweet dessert by itself but if you sprinkle  a bit of powdered cinnamon on top be prepared fo enjoy a whole new sweet delight.



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