Los Plantanos Grandos


I LOVE plantains, a culinary delight that many people think are just big bananas — which they decidedly are NOT. Although they are a member of the banana family, they are different in many ways.

This delectable fruit, whose history can be traced to as early as 500 B.C., was introduced to the world by East Indian traders, which is their port of origination.

They are grown and eaten widely in the tropics. But, because they fruit year round, are popular almost everywhere. People from Florida to Jamaica, Malaysia, Japan and Brazil consider them an indispensable part of a meal — fried, baked or boiled with equal effect.

The formal names for plantains are musa acuminata  or musa balbisiana, but every country has its own nomenclature — not for the fruit but for the dish. In Columbia, the dish is “pattacones;” in Kenya, “matoke;” in Puerto Rico, “tostones.” On the health tip, plantains are rich in fibre, calcium, and vitamin C.

One likely reason for the popularity of plantains is that they never spoil. They can be cooked from the time they are a hard unripe green until they turn a soft squishy black. When green — boiled in segments with the skin on in salted water — they taste like potatoes. As they age, they become sweeter. By the time they turn seriously black, they remain a good ingredient for desserts.

One important thing to know is the secret to peeling plantains easily. Because the skin is very tough, it does not peel easily like a banana. All you have to do to overcome the difficulty is to slice off the top and bottom; cut two lengthwise strips on either side of the skin (don’t breach the interior fruit); then peel off the skin without struggling.

Here are a few tasty recipes from around the world that will transport your taste buds from a main course side dish to a delectable dessert:

“Plain old ordinary” FRIED PLANTAINS (serves 2)

Plaintain - Fried


    • 2x plantains (medium ripe to soft; cut diagonally or round into 1/4 inch slices)
      1/4 cup oil (vegetable)



HEAT oil in frying pan, just enough to coat the pan
ADD plantain pieces
FRY in batches until plantains are browned
TURN & FRY the other side
TRANSFER to paper towel to soak up excess oil

ALOCO Cameroun Fried Plantains (serves a party)

Plantain - Aloco


½ cup oil (peanut)
4 tbs oil (palm)
24 large plantains (medium ripe, sliced in rounds)
6 medium onions (chopped)


1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper (white)


FRY plantains in oil & set aside
SAUTE onions & seasoning in the dirty oil
ADD a small amount of water
ADD plantains
COOK until hot but too soft

PLANTANOS AL CALDERO Dominican dessert (serves 4)

Plantain - DessertINGREDIENTS

1/4 cup butter
3 very ripe plantains (cut in segments)
1 cup water



1 tbs vanilla extract
4x cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar (soft brown)


MELT butter in a skillet
ADD plantains & STIR until coated with butter
COOK until plantains are lightly browned
ADD cinnamon sticks, vanilla & water
MIX well
SIMMER on low heat until plantains are soft
SERVE with a scoop of ice cream on top


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