When I saw a picture of the chips for the first time, I was immediately intrigued by my own questions: “Why these banana chips are called plantain chips?” “What’s plantain?” “What’s the difference?” After consulting internet, I found:
Plantains are not bananas.
Plantains are starchy, low in sugar.
Plantains are high in dietary fiber.
Plantains are usually fried or baked.
Especially the last two characteristics are what I’m after recently.
I also found my local grocery store and Mexican grocery store have plantains. I immediately bought a bunch of it, pan fried a small batch of plantain chips, packed the chips in my child’s school lunch/snack box. It came home with not even a single crumb. I know I have found another jade of snack to make without stopping and to show and tell.
4 Tbsp safflower oil (or enough to form a thin layer covering the bottom of frying pan)
Salt to taste
Nonstick pan (I used Calphalon 1876986 Contemporary Nonstick Panini Pan, 13.75-Inch)
Slotted spoon or chop sticks (my preference)
Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 – 45 minutes (depending on how many batches)
Cleaning time: 2 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6
Steps to make these chips are in the following:
Step 1: Peel off the skin
Step 2: Slice the plantains
After-Note: Yes, I think you can slice them too thin. You'll get a good sense of the perfect thickness after a couple of frying trials.
Step 3: Soak the slices
Place the slices in a bowl of salted ice water for about 30 minutes. I used 3 tsp salt to 3 cups of water.
Step 4: Drain and dry the slices
Drain them. Line a large cutting board and baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towel. Place plantain slices on paper towel in a single layer. Pat them dry with another paper towel on top side. (Don’t throw away the wet paper towels. Hang them to dry to use again.)
Step 5: Pan fry the chips
Note: I used a sandwich press pan. I love the marks this pan leaves on food. Also my intention was to tame down the chips if some of them bulge up. Whether that happens depends on a number of factors I think, such as, thickness of the chips, temperature and amount of oil.
Step 6: Serve the chips
After-Note: The chips in the boat dish in the Introduction tasted sweeter and crisper than the chips in the big oval plate, they didn't bulge up either, stayed flat during frying. This has something to do with following factors I think:
1 Ripeness, the riper the Plantains, the sweeter and crisper the chips.
2 Temperature, the higher the frying temperature, the crisper the chips. Safflower oil is relatively stable, can be heated hot without smoke. The closest substitue may be corn oil. Low heat/low temperature/long cooking time may also have something to do with chips bulging up during frying. Don't give them the chance, unless it's the opposite case :-).
3 Thickness, may have something to do with bulging up of the chips during frying. The chips in the boat dish were almost the perfect thickness. I suspect the chips in the oval plate were sliced too thin, not that I designed my experiment this way to find out how thin can be too thin. A case of unintentional accident leads to useful finding.
4 Salt amount, can the salt amount during soaking affect sweetness of the chips? Theoretically yes.
This is definitely an interesting multi-variables food science study. Interesting enough to make me keeping on to master the art of it. You are called to join in!