My 16-month-old daughter has started identifying her favorite fruit, joyfully crying “ba-TA-ta!” as soon as she spies the cheery yellow fruit in our produce basket. She repeats its name in the hopes that I’ll work my mummy magic on the banana, snap the peel open and reveal that sweet, creamy goodness within.
And so, when she spied the much larger, lime green banana-looking plantains sitting on the counter this week, she couldn’t understand why I wasn’t breaking one open for her.
I tried to explain that while plantains are related to the sweet bananas she loves, they are much starchier, less sweet and unpleasant to eat raw. Once their peels turn first yellow, then black (or maduro, as it’s known in Spanish), they do begin to sweeten, but still need to be cooked. They are divine when fried, as the sugars create a lacy, honey-crisp coating while the lush interior turns into custard.
She didn’t seem to get it. I expect this won’t be the last time.
The most popular plantain dish might be tostones, a fritter with a fry-like crunchy exterior and a fluffy, faintly sweet interior.
They couldn’t be simpler to make: 1-inch wide slices are fried once, smashed, then fried once more. They make a delightful change from your regular starch.