Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tostones & Mojo Sauce. Best Snack Ever. Paleo peeps and fried food lovers unite.

Tostones, like most fried food are best eaten hot right away. If you don't know them already, meet tostones, twice fried green plantains, with mojo (pronounced mo-ho) a salty citrus and garlic dipping sauce.

I learned to make tostones about 10 years ago from an amazing woman. This is the way her mother from Puerto Rico made them. No need to go purchase a special press or any contraptions. All you need is hard green plantains, oil, and salt. A few other things for the mojo sauce.  You will see from the pictures, we use the peels of the plantain to press the tostones flat. I know there is no better way than this. The natural cracks and inconsistencies in the peel when it is flattened create ridges in the finished chips that add to the crispy possibilities of the snack. It is the best.

Green plantains are more like a potato than a fruit. Starchy, and terribly hard, they need to be cooked to become edible. The first fry softens the plantain. Then it can be pressed. The second fry completes the cooking, and creates the delectable crispiness we are after. The thicker areas of the chips puff and the meaty plantain is one with the golden brown crackled edges.  I find peanut oil gives the best fry, but any neutral flavored vegetable oil will work.

If you are new to plantains, the only trick is in the third photo. Slice through the peel but not the fruit on opposing sides. Use your knife as leverage in the cut to lift up the peel as much as you can. Put down the knife and finish the job with your thumb, running it under the peel, until it pops off. Simple. (If you are doing a lot of plantains, wear gloves or coat your hands with oil, as something in the peel can stain skin temporarily. When I do one or two plantains I don't bother with gloves, soap and water work fine.)

Put on some good tunes and you will soon find an assembly line rhythm. If you are making tostones for a crowd, change to new peels after the first ones become worn down.

Tostones, Fried Green Plantains with Mojo Sauce
  • 1 cup of oil (more or less)
  • Green plantains, about 1 per person
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (garlic powder is not as good, only useful in mojo emergencies!)
  • salt
  • Juice of 1 orange (or lemon in a pinch)
  • Juice of 1 lime (or lemon in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • cilantro if you have it (I didn't today)
Peel plantains. Save the peels to the side. Cut into 1/2" slices on the diagonal. Heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering hot in a heavy bottomed pan. Test a piece to check it sizzles immediately upon contact. Fry plantain slices until lightly golden, the color will change, but don't look for brown yet. Remove to paper towels. 

Lay a plantain peel, inside up on the counter. Place a fried slice on it. Use the other peel (inside down) to cover the slice. Press down with the palm of your hand smashing the fried plantain inside. Gently lift off the top peel. It should not stick. Use a spoon to lift it from the lower peel. Repeat, working in batches. Return flattened plantains to the frying oil. Fry until golden brown on the edges. Remove to drain. Sprinkle with salt. 

Make the mojo sauce in a bowl. Mash garlic cloves in whichever way suits you. Add the salt, juices, olive oil, and cilantro if you have it. Whisk, taste, add more salt or juice to your taste.

Serve them together, dipping the tostones into the sauce as you eat them. The acidic citrus and garlic wake up all the flavors like your mouth is dancing. 


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