How to cook Plantain

How to cook Plantain

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When plantains are green and hard you can boil them and eat them like potatoes. However, they are best when ripe and softer – bake them whole or slice them and shallow fry them to get all the delicious sweet flavours.

READ: Costa Rica: crispy plantain chips & dips


Although plantains are fruits, they’re classified as ‘starchy carbs’, alongside potatoes. Plantains are also known as ‘cooking bananas’. They can be eaten at any stage of ripening.


Plantains are available all year round.


Plantain should be left to ripen at room temperature, but then moved to the fridge once fully ripe. They can also be frozen.

What are the health benefits?

Plantains are a source of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They don't count towards one of our 5-a-day though, as they are classified in the starchy carb food group.

Fried Plantains

Think beyond potatoes and fry up sweet, starchy plantains to pair with your next burger or sammie. Plantains look like large bananas but don't taste like 'em (plus, bananas won't fry like plantains), so make sure you seek out the right crop at the grocery store.

very ripe plantains (skin should be very black and soft)

  1. Heat 1/4 inch oil (about 1 1/2 cups) in a large, heavy skillet on medium.
  2. Peel plantains by cutting off the ends and making a long, shallow cut through the peel. Slice at an angle into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and, in 2 batches, fry plantains until golden brown and caramelized, 3 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per serving): About 135 cal, 9.5 g fat (1 g sat), 1 g protein, 120 mg sodium, 14 g carb, 1 g fiber

Recipe Summary

  • Neutral oil (such as grapeseed, canola, or peanut), for frying
  • 2 medium-size ripe plantains (about 1 pound 2 ounces), peeled and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 4 quarts plus 1/2 cup water, divided
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated on a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons s black pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves and stems

Pour neutral oil to a depth of 1/4 inch into a large skillet, and heat over medium. Fry plantain slices in hot oil in a single layer until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels let cool 5 minutes.

Process plantains in a food processor until a coarse paste forms, about 30 seconds. With processor running, gradually drizzle in olive oil and heavy cream, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. With processor running, add egg yolks, vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer, pressing with the back of a spoon to yield about 3 1/2 cups discard solids.

Bring remaining 4 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup salt. Add spaghetti, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 9 to 11 minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat sauce in a 12-inch skillet over low, stirring often to prevent the sauce from separating or overcooking the eggs.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta to sauce in skillet, and increase heat to medium. Cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is evenly coated, about 2 minutes, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid, 2 tablespoons at a time, if needed to thin sauce. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, pepper, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Fried Ripe Plantains

Fried ripe plantains have a crispy, caramelized texture and irresistibly sweet taste. It's a ubiquitous Caribbean dish that is served with almost every meal, and it's enjoyed in other parts of the world as well. This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to bring the taste of the Caribbean into your home.

Plantains are a member of the banana family. Unlike a banana, plantains are starchy and need to be cooked before eating. As a plantain ripens, its starches are converted to natural sugars, resulting in a sweeter taste. Frying a fully ripe plantain quickly in oil coaxes all the sugar to the surface where it's caramelized. This creates a delicious chip that's simultaneously crisp and sweet. After the first taste, you'll realize why this is one of the best ways to eat plantain.

The keys to successful fried plantains are choosing ripe fruit and using the right pan, oil, and heat. A ripe plantain's skin should be almost black or, in some cases, have a dull yellow color with patches of black. In addition to being sweeter, ripe fruit peels easily and cooks in no time.

Serve fried ripe plantains as a side dish or snack. They're excellent alongside island favorites like red beans and rice and Jamaican jerk chicken and can be added to soups or stews. In the South American country of Guyana, they're traditionally served with a national dish called cook-up rice (rice, beans, and meat cooked with coconut milk).

3. Caramelized plantains

You&rsquoll be amazed at how easy these caramelized plantains are! The best part? It can be prepared with only four ingredients: plantains, brown sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil!

It&rsquos a sweet treat that&rsquos perfect as your meal&rsquos side dish or dessert.

Quick tip: Pick plantains that are already ripened with black spots around them for best results.

How to Boil Plantains

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Boiled plantains are a staple of African, Caribbean, and Central and South American cuisine. When boiling your own plantains at home, always start with green or yellow fruit that’s firm to the touch and relatively free of spots in order to make sure they don’t come out too soft. Slice off the ends, then cut them in half and add them to a pot of boiling water. Cook the plantains for 15-30 minutes, during which time they’ll turn a deep yellow color and become scrumptiously sweet.

They are an incredibly popular food staple in Latin America and the Caribbean, meaning countries like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Colombia, and others have practically *perfected* cooking them — and there are a lot of beyond mouthwatering ways they've done that.

Mofongo is a plantain-based mash made with garlic and pork cracklings, which is then molded into a tasty little ball of heaven. It's said to have originated in Puerto Rico, with the Dominican Republican spinning off their own version (listed above).

Get the full recipe from Simple By Clara (an incredible site packed with a variety of Dominican recipes).

3 Easy Ways To Cook Plantain, The Spinach-Like ‘Survival Weed’

I grew up in Chicago and remember seeing plantain growing in yards and parkways along city streets. What always caught my eye were the slender seed stalks emerging from a nest of green leaves. I had no idea they were edible, but have harvested them frequently since then.

Both plantain leaves and the seedy stalks can be eaten, and they contain a surprising number of nutrients on a par with spinach and other leafy green vegetables like kale and collard greens. Plantains have healthy doses of vitamins K, A and C, in addition to iron and fiber.

Harvesting Plantain

Plantain leaves can be easily snipped from the plants with a pair of scissors. The leaf stems are actually a bit fibrous, so cut close to the base of the leaf. The leaves are best when harvested before the tall 4- to 6-inch seed stalk emerges. Much like dandelions, the leaves of plantain become a bit bitter once the seed stalks emerge.

The seed stalks also can be eaten, and there are a few ways of preparing both the leaves and the stalks.

Cooking Plantain

A general rule of thumb for cooking plantain is to immerse the leaves or the stems in boiling water for 4 minutes, and then immediately immerse them into a bowl of ice water. This will shock the leaves or stems to stop the cooking process and fix their deep, green color. When plantains are overcooked they tend to disintegrate, so stay close to the 4-minute rule.

This initial boiling step will not only tenderize the plant but will help to dilute any bitterness in the more mature leaves. Once you have done this initial step you can go into a variety of directions with further preparation and recipes. It’s not absolutely necessary to do this blanching step. Young, tender leaves can be washed and tossed into a green salad, served with any dressing you prefer.

1. Sautéing Plantain

I’ll often follow the blanching step in the boiling water with a quick sauté. I’ll drain the plantains and then drop a couple of tablespoons of butter or olive oil in the pan, and toss the plantains around over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. They make a great side dish, and you can top them with anything from pine nuts to bacon bits.

The seed stalks can be sautéed the same way, and when stacked on a plate have the appearance and a bit of the flavor profile of asparagus. The seeds also can be stripped from the stalks and used as a garnish on everything from salads to mashed potatoes.

2. Plantain Soup

In its simplest form, plantain soup includes strips of plantain leaves boiled in a broth for 4 minutes. I’ll usually add two cup of plantain leaves cut into julienne strips about a 1/4-inch wide and bring 4 cups of chicken broth or beef broth to a boil before adding the plantain leaves. You can add other ingredients to the broth, from noodles to vegetables or even chunks of chicken or strips of beef or venison. Add the noodles or meat or other vegetables to the pot first, and add the plantains to the broth 5 minutes later and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

3. Plantain ‘Goma Ae’

I lived and worked in Asia for two years and spent about 4 months living in Japan. It was there that I first encountered Goma Ae. It’s basically boiled spinach that is squeezed dry after boiling and then tossed in a mixture of sesame seed oil and soy sauce before being shaped into a cube about the size of an ice cube. It’s then sprinkled with a little more sauce and sesame seeds and served cold.

To make the plantain version of Goma Ae, take 2 cups of plantain leaves and boil them in water for 4 minutes. Shock the leaves in ice water and then squeeze out as much water as you can. Mix 2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and toss the leaves in the sauce. Form the leaves into cubes with your fingers you should get about 4 cubes in total from 2 cups of leaves. Drizzle any remaining sauce over each and sprinkle with sesame seeds. This is the plantain recipe I make most often, and it goes great with any meal. If you want more cubes just double or triple the recipe.

How do you eat plantain? Do you have any other advice? Share your tips in the section below:

How to cook other plantains options

As I said, plantain is similar to potato so it’s also possible to come up with different preparation methods which are healthier than frying. Try baking or grilling – it should keep the nice taste and colour.

Patacones (or in other regions they call them tostones) are another popular dish – they’re everywhere in Colombia too. Plantains get squashed and then fried twice, resulting in a flat disk resembling bigger plantain chips.

Or if you are rather interested in making a dessert, check out how to cook other Latin American countries’ plantains recipes. We heard that for example in Venezuela they’re eaten caramelised! Have you had that before? Tell us how it was in the comments below!

Fried Sweet Plantains -- Plátanos Maduros

The sweet fried "banana" served as a side dish in just about every Cuban restaurant.

3 large ripe plantains , peeled and bias cut into 1-inch thick slices. Plantains must be very black skinned!
2/3 cup vegetable oil, or lard (to cover half the thickness of plantains in the pan)

Your plantains need to be very black, so black you think you should throw them out.

Peel and bias cut (diagonal) into one-inch thick slices. Heat the oil until medium hot -- a drop of water will sizzle.

Fry the pieces briefly, about a minute or two per side. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, turning occasionally until they are brown and caramelized.

VARIATION: Some people like to lightly roll the plantains in white or brown sugar before frying.


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Plantains 101: Here's Everything You Need to Know

These are equally wonderful with just a simple sprinkle of salt or lime zest, cayenne, or chili powder. Trust us, you can&rsquot just eat one.

From Meseidy Rivera of The Noshery.

Salt and granulated garlic, to taste

  1. Thinly slice plantains into chips with a mandoline. Soak in a bowl of salted cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375°F.
  3. Drain plantains and pat dry. Working in batches, fry the chips, agitating them with a fork so they don&rsquot sick together. Fry for 30 to 45 seconds or until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and granulated garlic.
  4. Let cool and serve. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days before they start to get stale.

You may have seen these before in the tropical fruit section of your grocery store. You know, where the pineapples and coconuts hang out? At first glance, it looks like a banana. But when you pick it up, you realize it&rsquos bigger, firmer and has a thick skin. It&rsquos not a banana&mdashit&rsquos a plantain.

I&rsquom originally from Puerto Rico, so I&rsquove pretty much been eating plantains all my life. It&rsquos one of the ingredients I&rsquom asked about the most. I think most people are confused because it looks so much like a banana but it doesn&rsquot peel like a banana, taste (much) like a banana, and it isn&rsquot eaten like a banana. The plantain is a starchy cousin of the banana, and all that added starch means it almost always needs to be cooked before it can be eaten.

Plantains hold a special place in my heart. As a child, I&rsquove had many a dinnertime battle over the last tostone (fried plantain). In fact, as much as I&rsquove moved around in my adult life, I always joke and say I&rsquoll live anywhere as long as I am within a 5-mile radius of plantains.


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