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9 Caribbean Ways of Eating Plantains

I love plantains in any way possible. Plátanos are as popular in the Dominican Republic as baseball, merengue music, and rum. It is one of those foods people outside the Caribbean see as something exotic, but for us, is the equivalent of tortillas in other parts of Latin America.

Plantains entered the New World during the colonization and have been popular in coastal areas all over the Americas. In the Dominican Republic they are an essential part of the culture and the local cuisine.

Plátanos are often mistaken for bananas because in some Latin American countries, the word plátano is used to refer to bananas. In the Caribbean, where bananas also have an important role within the islands’ cuisine, plantains are loved by most and cooked in different ways. They can be prepared as a main or side dish and for any meal of the day.

You can fry, grill, steam, bake or boil plantains to serve the particular needs of the meal you are arranging. They are great as an accompaniment to any meat, fish, or poultry and help you feel full for a long period of time. If you’ve never tried it, you may want to know its scientific name is musa paradisíaca (muse from paradise). Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired!

Inspiration aside, plátanos are definitely a versatile, affordable and healthy fruit that you can find almost anywhere in the United States nowadays. I invite you to read through the slides and check some of the different ways we enjoy it in the Caribbean islands.

¡Buen provecho!

  • Mashed Plantains ~ Mangú 1 of 9
    Mangú

    This is the quintessential Dominican dish, simply made by boiling plantains and mashing them while adding a bit of water and butter. The perfect companion to this dish is sautéed onions, fried cheese, and a wedge of avocado. Rumor has it that the naming of this dish happened by accident during the first U.S. invasion to the Dominican Republic (1916-1924); a local woman served the mashed plantains to a U.S. soldier and after eating it he said, "Man, good!" The phonetics of the expression sounded like mangú to the Spanish speaker and the name was coined. No one can verify the veracity of the story; however, it is already part of the Dominican culture. Photo credit: Dania Santana

  • Mofongo 2 of 9
    Plantain Mofongo

    As with many other Caribbean dishes, mofongo has an African origin. The original dish mixed starchy vegetables and was introduced to the Americas by Africans in the Spanish colonies. To make the original mofongo, just fry the plantains, smash them, add broth, chicharrón de cerdo (pork cracklings), garlic, salt, and olive oil. Besides the pork inside mofongo, the dish is served with a side of beef or chicken. There are newer (and lighter) versions of mofongo: you can make them by just substituting the pork cracklings with shrimp or chicken. Photo credit: Sazón Boricua

     

  • Sweet Plantain in Syrup ~ Plátanos Borrachos 3 of 9
    Borrachos Plantain

    If you are anything like me and like green plantains, you most likely love plátanos once they ripen. This is one of my favorite recipes; my grandmother used to make them all the time. Making this recipe is very easy: just add butter to a saucepan, brown the plantains (they should be completely ripe, so the skin should be dark), and once they are golden brown, add sugar, cinnamon and stir, adding drips of water to help it mix well. I also love Sazón Boricua's version of this Caribbean dessert that includes a touch of brandy. Photo credit: Sazón Boricua

  • Fried Plantains ~ Tostones 4 of 9
    Tostones

    Tostones are to the Caribbean what French Fries are to Americans. We make them to accompany almost any dish and even as a main dish to eat with fried cheese and avocado. The secret to making the perfect tostones is to cut them about 1-1/2 inch thick; then warm the oil at medium temperature and fry them until they change color to yellow. Remove from the pan and crush them softly so they stay a bit thick. Then heat the oil on high and fry them a second time for a few seconds so they can get their crunchiness. Enjoy! Photo credit: Dania Santana

  • Fried Plantains Stuffed with Octopus ~ Tostones Rellenos con Pulpo 5 of 9
    Tostones Rellenos

    Once you know how to make tostones you can choose their size, shape and thickness and play with different meats and seafood to stuff them. I loved this recipe from Sazón Boricua that adds octopus to the mix. Check it out! Photo credit: Sazón Boricua

     

     

  • Plantain Sandwich ~ Sándwich de Plátano 6 of 9
    Plantain Sandwich

    The first time I heard of this dish was while living in Michigan. A Puerto Rican restaurant in Chicago created what they called jibarito which is a sandwich made with plantains instead of bread. As with any sandwich, there are endless combinations you can make to add to it and I just feel that chicken is a great match for this delicious sandwich. As for the plátano, it can be green or ripe, you just have to split it in two vertically, fry, crush as with the tostones, and you have your bun! Photo credit: Dania Santana

  • Plantain Canoes ~ Canoas de Plátano 7 of 9
    Canoas de Plátano

    This is an awesome idea that you can easily use to impress your family. These can be eaten for lunch or dinner and cooked fried or baked. The combination of the ripe plantain and the meat gives you incredible flavor. I prefer to bake them to reduce the amount of calories. Just peel the plantains, add cooking spray, wrap them in aluminum foil, and bake to 350° F for about 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy with a side of salad. Photo credit: Sazón Boricua

     

  • Plantain Soup ~ Sopa de Plátano 8 of 9
    Sopa de Plátano

    Some days we just need some comfort for an upset stomach or to snuggle during the cold winter months. This soup is the ideal dish when your appetite is for something warm and tasty. My maternal grandmother used to make this all the time and now my mom makes it for my kids and me. Simply fry the plantains in olive oil, then smash them with garlic and add them to boiling water. Add sofrito, or the seasoning of your liking, plus cilantro, and let simmer. Enjoy with saltine crackers or plantain chips! Photo credit: Dania Santana

     

  • Caribbean Lasagna ~ Lasaña Caribeña 9 of 9
    Plantain Lasagna

    Making lasagna is always delightful, especially for long family gatherings. The Caribbean twist to this Italian classic is done by substituting the pasta for sweet plantains. You just need to slice the plantains thinly, fry, drain the excess oil on a paper towel and then arrange your lasagna the way you usually do. You can find the complete recipe in Spanish from Sazón Boricua.  Photo credit: Sazón Boricua


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