Introduction: Pan Fried Plantain Chips
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
Remove both ends of the plantains with a stainless-steel knife, slit the skin of each plantain lengthwise along its natural ridges, and then peel off skin.
Step 2: Slice the Plantains
Slice the plantains as thin and as consistent as possible. Eat the first slice. You can slice them to round or oval shape, whichever your hear desires.
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
Accept my apology for tricking you with the first slice of plantain. Hope you didn’t like the taste of raw plantain.
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
Add oil to nonstick frying pan, enough to form a thin layer covering the bottom of the pan. Turn on stove. Heat the oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Place the first batch of plantain slices in one singer layer in the bottom of the pan to fry for about 5 minutes, turning once when the pan side of chips turns golden brown. Fry them until they are golden brown on both sides.
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
I got inspiration from the recipe which involves double deep frying here: http://www.picknsave.com/Recipes/RecipeFull.aspx?RecipeID=22237&QuickSearch=103&PageNumber=2&Source=search which says “salt and serve while hot. Pass hot pepper vinegar to shake over the chips”. I tried them both hot and cold, with and without salt, with and without dip or sauce. I liked them both hot and cold. I liked them without salt because it’s healthier, and I like their natural mildly sweet flavor of a little bit chest nut, a little bit banana, and a little bit potato flavors in them. My family likes these chips too. This will be one of the top snack recipes in my recipe collection.
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!