Friday, 28 November 2014
Tostones or fritos verdes are a specialty most popular in Latin America, South America and the Spanish Caribbean. They are slices of green plantain lightly fried, squished into medallions then fried again until golden and crispy. They make a delicious snack on their own but they also go well with an endless amount of different sauces for dipping. They also make a great side dish to anything you would eat French fries with (personally, I think they're fantastic with steamed fish and veggies). Here I served mine with a spicy tamarind chutney. The idea to make tostones was actually from a Guyanese friend of mine. She had a tostonera which she never used so she, knowing what a foodie I am, asked me if I would like to have it and I accepted. A tostonera is the tool traditionally used to makes tostones. It is a piece of wood hinged to another piece of wood and a handle. The tostonera is used to clamp down on the fried plantain slices, squishing them into tostones.
It was fun to use the traditional apparatus but you don't need a tostonera to make tostones. Instead you could place the fried plantain slices one at a time in a folded piece of parchment paper and use anything flat and hard to squish it (a hardcover book, jar, can, plate, pan, etc...).
If you're not familiar with plantains, they look a lot like bananas though they're starchier and the flavour is a cross between banana, potato and pumpkin. Similar to bananas, plantains start out green, then turn yellow and then brown to black. They are consumed in all four different stages of ripeness. At their greenest they are starchy and savoury and at their blackest they are softer and quite sweet. For tostones you must use green plantains. Yellow to black would be too ripe for this technique.
2 or 3 green plantains
3-4 cups of oil suitable for frying
Fine sea salt
Cut the ends off the plantain and remove the peel using a paring knife. Cut into 1 inch or so slices.
Submerge the sliced plantains in cold water to prevent them from discolouring.
Meanwhile, warm the oil over medium heat. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to test the readiness of the oil. The oil is ready as soon as tiny bubbles form around the wood. Fry the slices in batches as not to overcrowd the pan. Dry the slices off with some paper towel before adding them to the oil. Adding anything wet to hot oil causes quite violent splashes and you could injure yourself. Fry for a couple of minutes or until they just start to think of changing colour. Gently stir them with a metal utensil to ensure they stay separated and do not clump together.
Remove the semi-fried plantains and place them on paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
When all your slices of plantain are at this stage, reduce the heat of the oil to low. It will only take a minute or two to squish the plantain slices but that's ample time for the oil to get way too hot. This is the best way to keep from injuring yourself and/or burning your tostones. When the semi-fried slices of plantain are cool enough to handle, start squishing them.
Whether you're using a tostonera or a piece of parchment paper and something flat 'n' heavy, the concept is the same. Apply pressure on the plantain to squish it and flatten into a medallion shape. Use a butter knife to slide under the plantain to remove it cleanly as they will stick slightly.
It's not necessary, but you could even add a touch of oil to the tostonera or the parchment paper and that will help the tostonera to slide off without breaking.
When all of your plantain slices are flattened, increase the heat of the oil back to medium and use the wooden spoon technique to test its readiness. Now that the tostones are flattened they will be wider and you won't be able to fit as many back in the oil. So fry in smaller batches of four or five.
The amount of time the second phase of frying is not as important as colour and texture. Fry them until they are golden brown and crispy (a couple of minutes or so). As before, stir gently so that they remain separated while frying.
Remove the tostones from the hot oil and place them onto new paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Lightly season with fine sea salt on both sides while they are still hot.
Serve warm as desired.
How simple is that? Three simple ingredients turned into a deliciously crispy, golden snack or side dish in minutes and minimal effort.
These are so good, I'm telling you. I've been eating healthier than usual lately and it was so nice to indulge in some homemade fried goodness (lol). These are like a cross between a potato chip and French fries only sweeter. Crispy on the outside, just tender enough on the inside and they are great at carrying any kind of dipping sauce or chunky salsa. Add some Latin vibes to your kitchen and give these a try. They are simple, fast, tasty and quite economical. If you prepare them for a party they will be a huge hit. This is also a very basic approach to tostones. If you want to get adventurous there's nothing stopping you from adding any kind of spices with the salt while they're still warm out of the fryer. A hit of fresh lime juice would also add a fantastic element if you're eating these as a snack. Have fun and be wild!
Until I see you again! I just want to say thanks to everyone who follows the blog. Mad love and respect. You bring so much joy to my life and I'm forever thankful. One more thing before we part, please be careful while frying to these extent at home. Hot oil can cause some very tragic but avoidable accidents. My passion is not only inspiring you to cook new things, but to be safe and happy as well.
That does it for now. Take care,