I love travelling, I don’t think there is anything more inspiring and stimulating than travel for me. Getting out of our daily routing and getting out smelling the air in a different place, hearing a different language (or accent of your own), beholding stunning landscapes and finally tasting new combinations of known flavours to make your taste buds sing.
The best part though of food tried on a trip, is that you can recreate it when you come back home and recapture some of the essence of your trip. That for me is the most glorious part of food, it is not only about nutrition, it is a complete sensorial experience, where you can travel and feel carried away to another time and place – through smell and taste conspiring to transport you. To top that, there is also the discovery of new foods which you had never before seen or tasted until this trip.
Plantains were a revelation for me, on my first trip to Colombia. To a girl who had only lived in Europe and the US, bananas are a pretty standard fruit, widely available. Never did I think there could be a fruit, which looked just like a banana, but tasted like a banana flavored potato! (No – that is not a scientific definition, but it was my first reaction upon trying it!)
So in April, when we were back in the land where plantains are shaped and morphed into loads of different shapes and sizes, with or without toppings, my appreciation for plantains soared and rocketed.
Now, a couple months since our return, I was craving some Caribbean flair to disrupt our weekly meals – Patacones came straight to mind. Plus, J is always delighted when I dabble with elements of his home cuisine. Also, while in Colombia, I bought an arepa/tortilla/patacon press, which I have secretly been looking to excuses to use 🙂
After some quick online research, I realized, they are really easy to make! Chop, fry, squash, fry again, salt and serve! Once I got the hang of it, I also realized they are pretty amazing bases for toppings like guacamole, salsa, cheese, and I am sure many, many, many other things.
Makes about 15 patacones
- 3 plantains
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a large deep skillet, heat 1-2 cm oil on medium high heat (I used a Dutch oven to limit the splashing and messiness, as I am not a frequent fryer, and tend to be quite clumsy around hot oil).
- While the oil is heating, peel your GREEN plantains cut into 5 equal size pieces (do not use more matured ones, they will not come out crunchy nor hold their firmness). I found it easier to score along the whole length of the plantain on opposite ends with a knife, that way you have an easy grip and can peel.
- When the oil is hot, place your plantain pieces standing upright and fry until they just turn slightly golden, flip and cook the other end until similar colour is achieved. Remove from the oil, drain onto paper towel.
- Using a patacon press or the bottom of a plate, squash down your plantain pieces, until they are thin disks (0.5 cm thick).
- Return to hot oil and fry about a minute on each side, remove from hot oil, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately. (I also like to squeeze lime right before eating them, it breaks the fried taste and brings the mild banana flavor out more!)