Something great about writing and reading is getting to learn all about customs and foods of other people and places. Sometimes though, your own recollections and experiences can seem new and different to others. So I thought I would share one of mine with you. :P
I was born in Puerto Rico, a small island, 100 miles by 50 miles, out in the Caribbean Sea. And while PR is a property of the US and we have many of the same fast food restaurants you find there, we also have unique foods all our own.
A lot of these unique foods come from vegetables and fruits not normally found in the continental US. One of these unique vegetables/fruits is the plantain. Though plantains look somewhat like the bananas you might be used to, unlike the yellow variety you see at the grocery store , you can't eat plantains raw. They must be cooked, even when they're ripe . (If you don't, you'll get a heck of stomach ache!)
Depending on how mature the plantain is will depends on what you can make with it. Also the more mature it is, the sweeter the dish will be.
A normal plantain is about two to three times the size of a yellow banana. They're also kind of hard, unless they're ripe.
To make Puerto Rico's version of French Fries - tostones - you want the plantains to be green (unripe). Peeling the plantain's outer layer, you'd then slice the fruit of the plantain into thick chunks. (Think of peeling a banana and cutting it up to put into your cereal. Except the banana is much bigger, the slices thicker, and the peel harder to pull of.)
Each of the chunks will get dipped in salt water for a second (to help them not stick) and then get placed in a frying pan with a half inch of oil or so. They'll be cooked until they start to turn golden then be pulled out and redipped in the salt water.
That's when they'll get crushed pretty flat by a tostonera, then get fried it some more.
When the tostones are golden brown, they get pulled out and set aside to cool for a minute on a paper toweled platter (so the excess grease can be absorbed). At my house, we NEVER wait. When Mom makes them at family gatherings we're all dashing into the kitchen off and on when she's not looking to snatch one, sometimes even burning our fingers.
Do they look awesome or what?
Just like fresh made fries, they smell wonderful when freshly made! Tostoner are usually served as a side dish, just like French Fries.
A lot of people like to dip them in mojo/mojito, which is a garlic/tomato sauce. But that's too bitter for me. I use straight ketchup instead! Just like with my fries.
My mouth is watering just thinking about them! YUM!
I hope someday you too can get a chance to taste some. (And don't even get me started on Amarillitos Fritos (sideways sliced fried plaintain when they ARE ripe. Taste so sweet! Super YUM!)(Salivating even more now). Mmmmmm...
Unveiling the Fantastic