Introduction: Green Plantains: a Crash Course With Pics and Video on How to Peel, Cut, Mold and Cook.
I started cooking with green plantains about four years ago. And now I consider myself a Tosto-Chick, an expert on the fruit treated like a vegetable but never eaten raw. What? No wonder it is so misunderstood, not to mention neglected. Up until recently, there was no functional kitchenware helping with this type of Latin cooking.
There are many ways to prepare green plantains. Today's Instructable will concentrate on tostones rellenos or green plantain cups. The rage from CA to NY and FL, tostones rellenos are a quiet secret even among Latin homes who love their green plantains, but prepare the more traditional tostones or green plantain chips. Remember this: whether chips or cups, the cooking process is the same. The difference is the cut of the plantain.
HERE IS WHAT FOLLOWS IN THE COMING 12 STEPS:
BEFORE YOU CAN PLANTAIN, YOU MUST PEEL
Don't let the peeling process (a daunting step, I won't kid you) keep you from trying any green plantain recipe. Peeling, that's Step #3 . I've included a video. Short and to the peel.
OK, YOU PEELED. NOW WHAT?
There's slicing the plantain. - STEP # 2 & STEP #5
Frying the plantain. - STEPS # 8
Molding the plantain. - STEP # 10
Frying the second and last time. STEP # 11
And then the most fun part: THE TOPPING. Choices, choices -- sweet or go savory. Anything goes with the green plantain cups. Think of it as a platform, much like a pizza crust.
SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED?
1) green plantains, about four
2) knife, timer, and
3) a good eye -- the plantains have to be cut in 1 1/2 inch slices.
4) large bowl with 3 cups of warm water and 4
tablespoons of garlic salt
6) Deep Fryer or Skillet
7) Popcorn Salt
Remember cooking outside our comfort zones can be a little scary. I know it was for me. But don't let that hold you back. Green plantains are not expensive :-) so feel free to not get it quite right the first, second or third time -- it's OK. . . there are no mistakes in cooking!
Actually, before going through the cooking steps, take some time to learn the peeling process.
During that time, shop for a tostonera (that's the gadget that molds the green plantains). Later, I will let you know what I use. Without a functioning tostonera, there is no way I would be able to cook tostones rellenos as much as I do!
Oh, if your supermarket doesn't carry green plantains, ask for them. Sometimes, the department managers are too busy to see what's going on outside their store, culinary wise.
I'm sure they will be happy to help, if asked.
I've also included three video:
1) How to peel.
2) How to slice.
3) And finally, the smashing :-)
Oh, and I'll have tips along the way.
Step 1: Green Plantains 101
These are green plantains.
Step 2: Peeling the Green Plantain.
First -- slice off the ends.
Step 3: Beginning of the Peel
Don't be nervous. I'll take you through the process. Here we go!
a) Duplicate the hold in the picture.
b) Take a knife and make two slices from top to bottom about 1/2 inch apart.
c) Take your thumb, and run from top to bottom, under the skin, lifting the skin from the plantain. This is a technique that will make it easier when peeling the entire green plantain.
PEELING THE PLANTAIN FOR RELLENOS.
Step 4: You Have Beautifully Peeled Green Plantains. Now What?
So you took my advice, and learned how to peel. Great! From this point on, we are getting into the frying process. AND THERE ARE TWO FRIES. The first is about seven minutes. The second about three. Remember that. Bring out your timer. Cooking less or more presents problems!
WARNING. WARNING. WARNING
Is there such a thing as over or under cooking? YES. A green plantain during the mashing will disintegrate if undercooked. And, over cooking makes it TOO crispy. Thermometers are a good gauge for oil temp. For people who do not have a thermometer, just dip the edge of the plantain in the oil and see if it reacts or sizzles
I will be breaking down the steps, but here is the entire recipe. I like to read a recipe a couple of times, before I plunge. Just to to get an overall idea of what to expect.
Steps five through 11 will take you through the steps below.
1) Peel green plantains (approx one per person). DONE
2) Cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks for cups. Place into garlic water to soak (approx 1/2 hour)
TIP #1: '' The reason you soak in garlic water for approx 1/2 hour is so the plantain absorbs some of the garlic flavor
3) Heat oil for frying (in a skillet or deep fryer) 360- 365 degrees. Remove plantains from garlic water and dry on a paper towel (to reduce chance of grease splatter). Place plantain pieces in hot oil for 6-7 minutes (or until color changes slightly).
4) Then take them out and let them cool for about a minute.
TIP #2: Letting plantains cool after first fry -- you want your green plantain to rest (cool) for about a minute before you smash with Tostobueno because you get a better cup. If the plantain is too hot when you attempt to smash, it won't hold together in the perfect molded cups that we desire. So cooling about a minute gives the plantain time to rest.
5) Choose the cup side of the Tostobueno tostonera. Take the fried plantain and place it in the cup side lengthwise. Press down firmly to form the tasita or cup and then remove carefully - remember the plantain will still be hot.
6) Quickly dip the plantain cup back in the cold water.
TIP #3: Dipping back in garlic water before the second fry - makes the cup crispier.
Hold on, almost done.
7) Place the molded plantain back into the hot oil one more time for 3 minutes (until golden brown). Remove pieces from hot oil and place on a paper towel.
8) Lightly salt with popcorn salt, but any salt is fine or skip this step completely.
TIP #4: Popcorn salt -- because it's a finer grade of salt (almost powder-like) and sticks to the fried plantain better.
Arrange on a platter.
Remember . . . presentation is everything.
Step 5: How to Slice the Green Plantain for Cups.
A plantain will get you about three to four, 1 1/2 inch slices. For green plantain cups, that's about right. A little more or less, is fine -- it doesn't have to be precise.
HOW TO CUT A GREEN PLANTAIN FOR CUPS.
Step 6: Peeled, Cut and Watered.
Take a 30 minute break while the green plantains soak in three cups of warm water and four tablespoons of garlic salt.
TIP #1: Soaking plantains -- the reason you soak in garlic water for approx 1/2 hour is so the plantain absorbs some of the garlic flavor.
Step 7: So We've Peeled, Cut, and Soaked. Now the First Fry.
Hi! Here I am, with my apron at the Telemundo station in Hartford, CT. I am prepping for a segment on, you guessed it, green plantain cups. I'm telling you. Just Google, tostones or green plantains or tostoneras, and you'll see what I mean. Behind me, the white bowl, where I am soaking the 1 1/2 inch slices. To my right, I am preparing one of our topping: Apples, and in front of me: my trusty Tostobueno, The Ultimate Tostonera, and what molds the green plantains into cups.
Step 8: First Fry - 6 to 7 Minutes to Last Fry - 3 Minutes
a) Heat oil for frying (in a skillet or deep fryer) 360- 365 degrees.
b) Remove plantains from garlic water and dry on a paper towel (to reduce chance of grease splatter).
c) Place plantain pieces in hot oil for 6-7 minutes (or until color changes slightly).
Step 9: A 60 Second Cool Down Before the Smash.
Then take them out and let them cool for about 60 seconds.
TIP #2:Letting plantains cool after first fry -- you want your plantain to rest (cool) for about a minute before you smash with Tostobueno because you get a better cup. If the plantain is too hot when you attempt to smash, it won't hold together in the perfect molded cups that we desire. So cooling about a minute gives the plantain time to rest.
While they are cooling down, take out your tostonera. Mine is ready to go!
Step 10: READY FOR THE GREEN PLANTAIN SMASH
Be careful the plantains are hot. This step is all about looking at the pictures for the following:
1) Toston Placement in Tostobueno
2) Smashing the plantain
3) Taking out of tostonera
First two pictures: Toston placement in tostonera - VERY IMPORTANT.
The green plantain slices go in LENGTH WISE. The pictures make this very clear.
Pictures three and four: The smashdown.
Once you get good at this, you can do it with one had.
Picture five: Showing off your perfect cups . . . thank you very much!
Picture six and seven: Taking toston cups out of tostonera
As you take the toston cups, one by one out of the tostonera and before fry #2, quickly dip the plantain cup back in the cold water. This will make the plantain pieces crispy when refried. And that is Tip #3
And Finally The Second Fry: THREE MINUTES.
Always remember to be careful when frying.
Step 11: REMEMBER PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
The second fry is over.
AND NOW TO THE FILLING.
All you need is cherry, apple or lemon pie filling and whipped cream. There I am whipping the tostones. And, as they say, the truth is in the trying. Here we have Brenda Guerrero, co-host of Telemundo's show Salu2, in Hartford, CT.
And alls well that ends well. Tostones Rellenos are easy to make, just takes a little practice.
Just Remember The Quick Version:
1) Peel - Video
2) Cut - Video
3) Place In Water for 30 Minutes
4) First Fry for 7 minutes
5) Smash - Video
6) Second Fry - 3 minutes
AND REMEMBER PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING.
Step 12: Additional Toppings.
Just to give you topping ideas.
1) Shrimp Creole
2) Mango Surprise
3) Jicama with Bacon
And I've included a pic of Jicama. What's jicama? Well, I guess there's another Instructable in my future.
Recipes? Coming Soon!