If you've seen these banana-like fruits in the produce section and have no idea what to do with them, you may want to learn how to cook plantains. Plantains are actually a type of banana. The type we are more used to in the United States is often called a "dessert banana" as it is sweeter than other types and can be easily consumed raw. Plantains can be eaten raw as well, but you have to wait till the skins turn black. At that point the plantain is sweeter and less starchy.
Throughout most of the world however, plantains are eaten more like a potato, due to the high starch content. All parts of the plantain, from the roots of its plant to it's skin, can be consumed. Generally though, when you want to know how to cook plantains, you'll want to know how to prepare it's starchy flesh. Just like a potato, there are many many ways to cook a plantain. One of the most used methods if frying. That method will be covered here.
To learn how to cook plantains you will need:
- a knife
- a skillet
- vegetable oil
- a stove
- two forks
- paper towels
- plastic wrap
- meat pounder, large glass, or pan. (optional).
- Choose your plantains. The first step in learning how to cook plantains is choosing the best fruit. You want them to look "overripe", but not black, for best frying.
- Peel the plantains. Depending on what type of plantain you are using, and how ripe they are, you may need a knife to cut the skins. Cut off the ends and slit down one side.
- Cut the plantains. Cut them into three quarter inch to one inch slices.
- Heat your oil. Put about a half inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of your skillet. Heat it up on medium heat.
- Fry the plantain slices. You will need to cook the plantain slices for two minutes on each side turn them with forks
- Cool the plantain slices. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Allow to cool. at least 5 minutes.
- Crush the plantain slices. The next step in learning how to cook plantains is kind of fun! Place the slices on plastic wrap. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Press (or lightly thump) the plantain to about half their thickness using a meat pounder (a flat one), a large glass, a pan, or your hand.
- Fry the slices again. Return the slices to hot oil (still using medium heat). Cook about 4 minutes per side. They will be crispy and golden brown.
- Salt and cool the plantain slices. Remove from oil. Drain on paper towels again. You can salt them while they are still hot. Allow to cool a bit before eating.
- Enjoy! The best step in learning how to cook plantains! Eating them! Fried plantains are great plain or in a variety of dips.
Plantains can be prepared in many ways. They are an incredibly versatile food. Learning how to cook plantains this way may lead you to try them in many recipes or create your own. Have fun adding a bit of the "exotic" to your cooking!
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