Plantains – Another Caribbean Super Food

tostones

tostones

By Minna LaFortune

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 29, 2016: I love plantains! They offer so much potential in meal planning and are very easy to prepare.

They add bulk and add a satisfying taste to meals. Plantains also known as Plantanos are, ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Central America.  It is used as staple food item and is very versatile and nutritious, making it another Caribbean super food.

Plantains can be delicious once cooked and usually served in main dishes as the chief carbohydrate source in many parts of the tropical regions. Plantains make delicious savory recipes, used in place of potatoes – grilled, mashed, baked, or fried.

Plantain chips seasoned with salt and pepper is a popular snack. Tostones, platanos fried twice and prepared in a similar way, are also a popular snack in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Grated chunks are treated much like potatoes in many traditional African and West-Indian cuisine.

Plantains like bananas, belong to the Musaceae family. They are larger and are eaten cooked. They are firmer than banana and have a similar taste. Plantains are used in its green or ripened states to prepare meals. They are starchy and become sweet when ripe.

Plantains are quite different from dessert bananas – they are taller. The nutritious values of Plantains are many. Fresh platanos have more vitamin C and A and potassium than bananas.

Like bananas, they too are rich sources of B-complex vitamins, particularly high in vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine). Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has a beneficial role in the treatment of neuritis, anemia, and to decrease homocystine – one of the causative factors for coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke episodes levels in the body.

In addition, the fruit contains moderate levels of folates, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.Plantains also are an adequate source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Buying Plantains

When buying plantains, look for firm, mature, green ones. Do not buy overripe, damaged, broken fruits. When storing plantains, keep them open at room temperature for up to 4-5 days. Ripe Plantains are very fragile and show signs of decay quickly.

When cooking plantains there are a variety of ways to prepare them and have a delicious nutritious meal.

Some of the ways to prepare plantains are as follows :

Savory plantain dishes/snacks

Plantain chips

Tostones

Sopa de platano – a popular Caribbean soup preparation that uses green platanos, garlic, cilantro and cheese.

Mashed plantain – served with fried onions is a national breakfast dish of Dominican Republic. Mashed platanos are served with rice, eggs, beans, poultry, fish, etc., in these regions.

Plantain Tart (Jamaican dessert)

Plantain lasagna

Plantain sandwich

Plantain porridge

In Peru, plantains are boiled and blended with water and sugar to make chapo.

Today I will share with you a simple plantain recipe called Tostones.

Tostones

Method:

To prepare, wash (4) four green plantains.

Using a paring knife, peel the skin gently away from the flesh to get to the firm flesh inside.

Cut in very thin slices.

Fry plantain pieces in very hot vegetable oil.

Remove the fried plantains and flatten each piece.

Fry each flattened piece again.

When completely cooked, put to rest in platter on paper towel.

Add salt and grated garlic.

Serve hot or serve as a snack or with steak, roasted chicken or Escoveitched fish

Serves 6.

Bon Appétit

minna-la-fortune
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/bestfoodscaribbean/