It might look like an oversized, rotten banana, but trust me when I say that the plantain is far more than a starchy cousin to it’s more familiar yellow counterpart. It’s a versatile, delicious food from the tropics that must be tried and tried again to experience it in its many forms.
There are two main types of plantains: maduros and tostones. Maduros are ripened plantains, from the flesh of a fruit that’s blackened on the outside. They’re sweet, generally served as a breakfast or dessert. You’ll also find them as a side dish on a casado, or the traditional dinner plate of Costa Rica. They’re prepared by cutting the plantain into thick slices and pan-frying them. They’re sweet enough on their own that it’s unnecessary to add any extra sugar! Maduros have a tendency to resemble squishy, rotten bananas when prepared more than tostones, but it’s worth it to not judge this book by its cover.
Tostones, on the other hand, are unripened, green plantains. They’re eaten fried and taste like a cross between a banana and a french fry. Sounds a little strange, I know, but they’re a great snack! Sometimes, they’re prepackaged like potato chips. In some areas, I’ve ever found platain chips in different flavors, such as onion and garlic or barbecue! Customs gave me some strange looks as I tried to smuggle several packages of those ones home from Central America. (Granted, it wasn’t as bad as when I was stopped at the Canadian border brining home an entire backseat full of ketchup chips…) They can also be found in restaurants, sliced and served like french fries. I enjoy mine with ketchup or banana sauce.
Since they’re such a versatile food, they can also be used as an ingredient in many different types of foods. I’ve had them in everything from casseroles to breakfast scrambles, and have yet to be let down.
Have any good suggestions on how to prepare plantains? Comment and let us know!