In this instructable I will teach you how to cook a Plantain dish which has a look, taste and texture not unlike sticky buns but which is much healthier for you to eat. It can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a dessert or whenever you wish.
This is my very FIRST of (hopefully) many instructables, so please be patient and kind. Feel free to make comments and suggestions.
For those who are unfamiliar with what a plantain is, I would encourage you to go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantain and read all about them.
The recipe I am going to share was something I discovered when experimenting in my own kitchen and is not a copy of any other known recipe. Any resemblance that this recipe bears to another is strictly coincidental, but if you know of another recipe that happens to be similar, please by all means share it or the book title or website that contains it.
Step 1: No They Are NOT Over-ripe.....
Okay, for those who are not familiar with plantains, unlike bananas, they are in fact not over-ripe when they look like the picture I have supplied. Plantains have three 'stages' of ripeness, each of which are useful in their own way for cooking/preparing or using them in various recipes.
There is a green stage (which looks like an under-ripe banana), the yellow or yellow with dark splotches (like the picture) stage, and black stage . When a plantain is green it is not very sweet, is more crisp and can be peeled and prepared like you would prepare/cook potatoes. When a plantain is black it is very sweet, fairly soft and can be peeled and made into desserts. When a plantain is either yellow or yellow with dark splotches as shown in the picture, it can be fried and accented with any desired seasoning; sweet, salty, or with any seasonings you wish as it is somewhat of a blank canvas, a neutral (but semi-sweet) fibrous fruit.
But enough about plantain ripeness. In this Instructable, I will be describing how to cook plantains that are yellow with dark splotches.
Let's make the first step about what we'll need in order to make this dish:
-1 or more plantains - yellow with dark splotches
-Walnut oil (You have to look hard in the grocery store, but should be able to find it)
-Olive oil (While olive is ideal, Canola would be a reasonable alternative)
-Honey (whatever kind you like)
-Shelled (which is to say, NOT in the shell) walnut - You can get bags of shelled walnut at the grocery store)
-You'll need a small or medium frying pan. I prefer one with beveled bottom edges and try to use the smallest one I can get away with since it reduces the amount of oil needed.
-A medium plate, but not paper or styrofoam or anything which can't safely handle hot oil
-A good sharp knife with a blade about 4-6 inches long; a chef's knife, santoku, or whatever you prefer or have handy
That's about all you'll need. I purposefully did not give amounts of the ingredients because they will become self-evident during the course of the preparation and will be dependant upon the quantity being prepared and the size of the pan utilized (in the case of the amount of oil needed).
***A quick word about the nutrition of this recipe:
-Oils: I call out two oils (walnut and olive) which are very healthy for you and promote good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood.
-Plantains: they are very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and promote great digestion and intestinal health, which in turn promotes vitality and natural immunity to illness.
-Honey: it is a reasonably healthy and natural sugar, is a natural antibiotic, and is high in energy content.
-Cinnamon: this spice is probably neither good nor bad for you.
-Walnuts: known to strengthen the kidneys and lungs, lubricate the digestive system and improve metabolism. considered to be good for the blood.
In other words, there's really nothing BAD for you in this recipe. That being said, please be mindful of the calories consumed. Eat in moderation. The dish itself is absolutely good for you (so long as you have no allergy to any of the ingredients).
Ok, on to the next step......
Step 2: Let's Go.....
Okay, now that we have our ingredients, let's get the plantain ready to be fried.
The first thing you'll need to do is peel the plantain. If it's yellow with dark splotches, you will be able to peel it easily enough. The peel doesn't come away from the fruit as easily as a ripe banana but be patient and don't manhandle it; it will come away. And if you DO manhandle it...it doesn't very well matter because we'll be frying and then squashing them a bit anyway! And by the way, the color of the peeled plantain is similar to a banana but perhaps with a slight very pale orange tinge to it. It's a bit more dense than a banana and will be a little bit more fibrous.
I like to cut the plantain into strips rather than 'coins'. But you can choose your own shape. See examples in the diagram below. If you cut the plantain in half or thirds, you can then cut the resulting pieces in half lengthwise. The idea is to have strips about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Yes, this is thicker than other traditional dishes like Tostones call for. Trust me, it works for our application to have the pieces this thick. Ultimately, the thickness of the pieces is entirely up to you, but if you are really wanting to enjoy the "Sticky Bun" texture in the finished product that I am talking about, you will want to cut the slices so they are about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
Let's get The frying pan ready....
Take your frying pan and first add a small amount of walnut oil. About a 1/8 inch thick when all spread out will be more than enough. Then add olive oil to the walnut to bring the level to about 3/8 inch, which when the plantains are added will rise to roughly half of the thickness of your thickest piece of plantain. Heat the pan to about medium heat.
Once the oil is hot enough to crackle when a tiny drop of water is flicked into it, gingerly add the plantain, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. The moisture content in plantain is low enough that the oil should not erupt into a bubbling, frothing, dangerous mess, unless you have rinsed off the plantain for some reason...but please don't do that!
Now, watch the plantain and once it is a light golden color like the color of a jar full of honey (see pictures), flip it over and get the other side that color. The idea at this point in preparing the plantain is that you will be sort of crisping the outside enough so that you are able to squash the plantain thinner (detailed in the next step) without it oozing or losing its general shape. So the color is not as important as the texture at this stage. That being said, you don't want them very dark at this point.
While the plantain is cooking, get your plate out and squirt/pour your honey onto it. You want a thin coating in which you can place the pieces of plantain.
Onto the next step.....
Step 3: Game of Squash, Anyone?....
Okay now that the plantains are a golden color on each side and our plate of honey is ready, take the searing hot plantains out and put them right into the honey. I recommend using tongs rather than a spatula or other implement, as it lets you get a grip on them. Go ahead and slide the plantain around in the honey, which will become more liquidy as the hot plantain warms it up. It will thicken back up quicker than you might expect, though. This isn't an issue, but best to get while the gettin's good.
Now, while the plantain is still in the honey, just take a big fork and lightly and evenly mash them down to about half their original thickness. We're not mashing them like mashed potatoes, merely squashing them down a bit. And we're using a fork because it leaves a bit of an irregular surface - that additional surface area picks up more honey! Think of the technique used with peanut butter cookies to leave the ridges on the top...same thing here. Just don't overdo it and mash all the way through. Make sure to turn the plantain over and get honey on the other side. Really use those tongs to get them coated quite nicely with honey. MMMM, honeyyyyyy.
Be mindful of the oil in the pan on the stove...make sure it doesn't start smoking and end up flashing up (can you say "a flash in the pan?"..very dangerous). I recommend taking it off the burner just while you mash the plantain.
Okay, once the plantain are mashed and honey'fied, place them back in the oil and fry them again. This time you'll want to fry them on each side until they are a deep golden brown. And fear not. If you accidentally blacken a few pieces, they will be a bit chewy but still really nice. Don't do it intentionally, though. Because we sliced the plantain thick, they will still be soft and 'doughy' inside, like the texture of a sticky bun.
Now that they are deep golden brown, take them out and place them right back onto the 'honey plate' and feel free to slide them around again. Then take pinches of walnut and sprinkle it over each piece, as well as a very slight dusting with cinnamon...just enough to give the slightest hint of cinnamon flavor.
Step 4: They're READY!
Hey, guess what.
Put them onto plates to serve, or I guess if you can't wait, just feel free to eat them right off of the 'honey plate' with a fork. You shouldn't absolutely need a knife to cut them, but it does make things easier.
Well, give it a try and see if I'm not right in that these will end up tasting like a sticky bun, but without the saturated fats and butter and carbs.
And please, give me feedback so I know what you think of this recipe.