Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Plantain: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?

The first time I saw a plantain in the produce aisle, I thought, “Who would buy this overripe banana?”  The skin was mostly black.  In fact, the whole pile of what I thought were big bananas looked ready for the compost pile.
Banana at top, Plantain below

Here’s what I didn’t know:

* When the skin is mostly black, maybe with streaks of yellow, it’s ripe enough to be fried.
* It’s a staple in many African, Caribbean and South and Central American countries and is often served with beans and rice.
* It’s served as a vegetable but can also stand in for potatoes.

Here’s an easy way to cook a plantain for 2 people.

Cut away both ends. Try to peel the very tough skin.  If the skin won’t come off, cut along the length of it with a paring knife, taking care not to cut into the plantain flesh.  Open the cut and pull away and discard the skin (but not in the garbage disposal).



Slice the plantain flesh into 1/4-inch rounds and fry the rounds in 1 tablespoon butter or oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown.  Cooked this way, plantains are slightly sweet.

Fried Plantains

Or cut the skinless plantain in half lengthwise and fry as above.

For more cooking tips, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"