Tostones: The Perfect Plantain Bite

*Guest post by our friends at Familia Kitchen!

My favorite way to eat plátanos is tostones: the (try not to) burn-your-tongue, golden-brown plantain bites. So super-crispy and salty good. They are made from young, bright-green plantains. Fry them twice in vegetable oil, add a dash of salt and adobo, and you’re in tostón heaven.

We love plátanos for so many good reasons. Let us count the ways: They’re delicious. They’re filling. They keep forever. They're inexpensive. They’re easy to cook. They don't need refrigeration. They’re good for you: with lots of fiber; vitamins: A, C and B-6; and magnesium and potassium. They can be eaten alone as a side and cooked in stews—and even served as dessert. Plantains truly are la comida perfecta.

~ How to Buy and Peel a Platáno ~

When buying plantains for tostones, go for the greenest you can find. If they are hinting at turning yellow you can use them, but they are not ideal, tbh. If they are fully yellow, dont buy them or make maduros instead. They will likely be too sweet for tostones. Fully black? No go. They’re too dulce.

To peel your plátano, slice a thin wheel off the top and the bottom green skin. Make a shallow slice vertically, along its full length: top to bottom. Peel! If you are lucky, the skin will come off easily. If it doesnt, as sometimes happens to all of us (its truly luck of the draw, like peeling an egg)and the hard skin doesnt come offyou might need to use a peeler, like you would with a potato. Just go ahead and scrape it off. Next: slice your naked plátano into 2/3-inch thick rounds, with straight edges. Don't go thinner than this. Skinny plantain chunks will dry out when fried and lose their crispy-on-the-outside, molten-on-the-inside flavor.

~ How to Cook Tostones ~

Serves: 4
Prep time:
10
Cooking time:
20

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 green plantains
  • ½ to 1 cup vegetable oil (I use organic canola)
  • 2 shakes Loisa Adobo

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel the plantains, without cutting into the plantain itself.
  2. Cut each peeled plantain into ¾-inch thick chunks with straight edges. Don’t cut on the bias, like you do with maduros. Tostones will fry more crisply in the oil and therefore taste better when you have clean, straight edges.
  3. Test the oil heat by inserting a wooden cooking spoon. When the oil bubbles where you touch the tip of your spoon to the hot oil and pan, it's ready.
  4. Add oil to a cast-iron or non-stick pan so that it's 1/2 inch high. Turn heat to medium-high.
  5. The First Fry: Just before you add plantain chunks, turn down heat to medium. Add plantain chunks with tongs, so you don’t burn your fingers. Be careful not to crowd them. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each side, until golden brown. Scoop onto a paper-towel-lined baking sheet or plate until they are all done.
  6. Time to press your plantains. Take each fried plátano and—using a tostonera (wood or metal plantain press), the bottom of a heavy cast-iron pan, a rolling pin, a heavy can or your palm (like my husband’s aunt does!)—press it. Don’t smash. Lightly press, so it’s flat. (If you wish, you can freeze the pressed tostones now for future second-frying and eating. See Notes below for freezing instructions).
  7. The Second Fry. Make sure the oil in your pan is still piping-hot and set to medium high. Lower heat to medium when you are ready to add the tostones for the second time. Fry the flattened tostones in batches. Let each cook 30 seconds to 1 minute for the first side and just 30 seconds for the second side.
  8. Once each tostón is golden brown, scoop out and place on a baking sheet or plate lined with a paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with a dash of Loisa Adobo and/or garlic powder, and/or a pinch of salt—to your taste.
  9. Serve hot. Eat as is or with mojo: a mix of olive oil, lime and mucho garlic.

Cooking Tips:

  1. When frying tostones, I use canola oil. You can also use avocado or corn oil. Do not use olive oil. Reason #1, it's too strong and overwhelms the plantain flavor. Reason #2, olive oil's smoke point is low at 375 to 405° and it burns easily, giving your plantains a bitter, unpleasant taste. Sabe mal.
  2. If you wish to freeze them in batches to eat later, after your first fry and after you press the tostones, line the tostones on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in your freezer for 1 to 2 hours to flash freeze them. When ready, take out of freezer and scoop the frozen plantain patties into a zip bag. Close the bag tightly and return to your freezer. That’s it! When ready to finish and eat, take out of the freezer. Be sure your oil is nice and hot and gently place the frozen plantain patties into the oil, being careful not to crowd them. The oil may splash a tiny bit when you add the frozen tostones to the pan because of the moisture into the hot oil, so use your tongs. No thawing needed. In fact, I find my tostones are more sabrosos when I take them from first fry to frozen to second fry. They somehow taste even more salty, golden brown and crispy. Delicioso. A final dash of salt, garlic powder and/or adobo and you’re ready for the holidays.

~ A bit about Familia Kitchen ~

Familia Kitchen is on a mission to collect, curate and celebrate our traditional Latinx culinary heritage at its most authentic and delicious—one favorite family recipe at a time. Plant-based cooks should check out our Veronica’s Vegan Pozole Verde and Dairy-Free Flan de Calabaza. These tostones recipe was submitted by of our go-to Abuela Cooking 101 and criollo homecook Michelle Ezratty Murphy of @bowlandapron, who grew up in Puerto Rico with Familia Kitchen founder Kim Caviness

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