Cooking with Plantains: Recipes and More

Plantains, or “cooking bananas”, are a staple food in tropical regions around the world. Read on to learn more about plantains and the many delicious savory and sweet dishes that they are used in. 

What are plantains?

Image Credit: Victor Kwashie on Unsplash

Plantains are cultivars of bananas that are often used in cooking. They are rich in starch and contain less sugar than bananas, which makes them similar to raw potatoes in flavor. Depending upon their ripeness, plantains can be classified as green, yellow, or black. 

The unripe, green plantains offer a neutral taste and are best used in savory and crispy plantain recipes. However, some individuals prefer eating ripe, yellow plantains as they’re a less-sweet version of dessert bananas. Black plantains are soft and sweet, making them a good fit for dessert recipes.

Interestingly, plantains are the tenth most essential staple food in the world. They are specifically considered part of a staple diet in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, America, and the Caribbean Islands. Many popular plantain recipes we cook today have their origins in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

How to cook plantains?

Plantains can be cooked into a variety of savory and sweet recipes. They are considered a versatile food item that can be fried, roasted, boiled, baked, or grilled. Mashed plantains are a common dish in the Dominican cuisine, where it’s called mangú. Plantain chips, also known as tostones are a popular snack in various cuisines that are made from thinly sliced and deep-fried plantains. Another popular dish incorporating fried plantains is Columbian aborrajados de plátano (plantain fritters). These fritters are simply scrumptious with a crisp exterior and tender interior stuffed with mozzarella cheese.

One of the best plantain recipes is pastelón, a traditional Puerto Rican lasagna made from fried sweet plantains layered with meat, bell peppers, and cheese (try our recipe for pastelón). Mofongo is a unique plantain recipe that offers an intense sweet-umami flavor coming from fried and mashed plantains, pork cracklings, garlic, and salt seasoning. 

Plantain and lamb casserole is a savory plantain recipe from New Orleans with a variety of ingredients such as plantains, lamb, tomato sauce, raisins, cheese, eggs, and a variety of heavenly spices.

Plantain’s culinary use is not restricted to food alone, rather it is an integral ingredient in a sweet aromatic drink called chapo. Chapo has its origin in Peru, where it’s made from blending boiled plantains with water, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon. Plantains are also used in an Indian-style pudding where they’re combined with sago, coconut milk, sugar, and spices.

When it comes to cooking plantains we are left with so many options to choose from due to the diverse range of mouth-watering recipes incorporating plantains. 

Feature Image: Flickr user youthfulc (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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