Can a picky eater overcome a lifelong aversion to "branching out"?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fried Plantains

A few years ago, my husband and I were at my family reunion.  We were hanging out at my Aunt and Uncle's condo, sitting around and talking.  At some point, my Aunt brought out a plate with fried plantains and chunks of Queso Fresco.  Usually, I would never agree to try something like that.  Plantains are too close to bananas for my comfort.  And I am generally sketchy about trying unknown cheeses.  But my Aunt Sandra is a difficult woman to say no to and she is also a fantastic cook.  The only time I have ever had salmon and enjoyed it was when my Aunt Sandra cooked it (I didn't want to try it but, again, she is an incredibly persuasive woman....).  So I tried it.  And it was good.  And I tried a few more.  And they were good.  The thing that amazes me the most about it, is it wasn't anything big and bold that made me sit up and take notice.  But it was simple, delicious, clean flavors that have stuck with me for years.  Over the years since then, my husband or I will frequently comment to one another "Remember those fried plantains??  Those were really good."

A couple of weeks ago, I turned to my husband and said (for the millionth time) "Remember those fried plantains Aunt Sandy made?  Those were so good."  The difference is that this time, I followed it up with "Do you think we could make those?"  We stopped for a moment and thought about it.  "I mean....they can't be that difficult, right?"  A quick internet search later revealed that no.  They weren't that difficult!  So I headed for the grocery store on a mission.

I bought some plantains and sliced them up into bite sized pieces.

I love the way plantains look.  The picture doesn't show it very well.  They look like regular bananas but then when you slice them, they have a pink tinge running around the center.  It is very pretty!!  And very reassuring to remind me that they aren't actually bananas!

I poured vegetable oil into our cast iron skillet and was letting that warm up on the stove over medium high heat.  In the meantime, I sliced up the Queso Fresco.

The texture of Queso Fresco is kind of like a cross between mozzarella and feta.  Which feels weird to say because those are very different cheeses.  But it has that soft, wetter freshness of mozzarella but with some of the drier crumbliness of feta.  It tastes very clean, very subtle.  It tastes like milk.  That is the simplest way to put it.  It isn't a perfect description, but it works.

Once the oil was up to temperature, I put the plantain slices in to fry.  They tend to group together and they tend to stick together.

Let them float around in there and fry.  Flip them over so that both sides brown.  Take them out when they are a golden brown color and drain them on a paper towel.  While they are draining, sprinkle with kosher salt.  When they are done draining and they have been cooled enough, through them on a plate and enjoy them!!

The plantain chips are delicious on their own.  The cheese is delicious on their own.  Together, they are even better!  This recipe is really simple, really delicious and a healthier alternative when you want a munchy, salty snack.  It is interesting because each chip tastes a little different.  Some of them taste very starchy, just like a potato.  Some of them have a definite fruity, banana-y flavor to them.  The best ones, in my opinion, are the ones that have a little bit of both.  You get the satisfying starchiness in them but you also get that sweet flavor, almost like the sugars in the fruit crystallized while they were cooking.  So delicious.  I highly recommend trying this recipe.  It is so simple and the payoff in terms of taste is so huge.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some plantains to fry....

1 comment:

  1. I love plantains! It has been YEARS since I've had any ~ like before you were born! But now, thanks to your post I am going to try cooking them this way and serving them with Queso Fresco.

    Additionally, I enjoy it when you share the food ties with your childhood experiences. Both the positive and the negative, as it helps me to get to know you.