Friday, November 13, 2009

What's the Difference between a Plantain and a Banana?

Yesterday Barry had a long conversation with a customer about plantains. The man had never heard of a plantain and couldn't believe it wasn't just another banana. For those of you who may not be familiar with plantains, they are nutritious and delicious like bananas but totally different.
Whereas a banana is a sweet fruit, a plantain is more starchy and is often treated as a vegetable. Native to India, plantains are very popular in Western Africa and Caribbean countries where they are often used like potatoes.
Plantains need to be cooked before eating. They are usually fried or baked, but the taste varies with ripeness. The less ripe plantains are greener in color and contain more starch. As the plantain ripens, it darkens to black and takes on a sweeter flavor.
Pick up some plantains next time you're at the market. Dare to be different and try something new.

Here's a simple recipe to get you started with plantains. "Tostones" make a great snack or side dish.

Recipe for Tostones
Serves 3-4

Need: 2 green plantains, oil for frying, and salt
1. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
2. Peel plantains and cut into 3/4" slices.
3. Fry in hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be light golden and semi-soft.
4. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Maintain the oil temperature. After plantains cool (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds.
6. Fry the rounds in the oil for 3 minutes. They'll turn crisp and golden brown.
7. Remove plantains with slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
8. Salt to taste.

Taste great in garlic dip!

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