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Help me please with Cuban..........

Kitchen Queen Mar 24, 2007 09:20 PM

especially plantains. Love them but, have no clue really what makes a good crispy plantain. Do I buy yellow or soft black ones? When are the sugars at best? what is best to cook in? evoo, vege oil, butter, combos?

Then there's that yummy garlicy chicken...succulent and savory. What makes it so good?

I'll keep to the cuban beans I find at Trader Joes. They're good. I mix in chopped orange bell pepper and a little sweet corn.

Whoever knows out there, please come to my aide. My taste bud will be forever grateful!

KQ :)

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  1. paulj Mar 24, 2007 10:43 PM

    The last Cuban restaurant (only?) that I went to offered two versions of plantain:
    Tostones (green)
    Maduros (ripe)

    I haven't made tostones myself, but apparently what they do is fry inch thick slices of hard green plantain, smash them (possibly with a small 'tortilla press'), and refry them. The result is still a bit starchy.

    Ripe ones can be sliced thinner (say 1/4"), and sauteed, being careful not to let them burn. SInce the plantain is softer, and at the peak of its ripeness, these more tender.

    They can also be sliced thin and fried to make 'chips' (chiffles is the Ecuadorian term). Traders sells some good ones from Peru.


    5 Replies
    1. re: paulj
      Kitchen Queen Mar 25, 2007 12:11 AM

      Yes paulj, I understand and even had tostones myself but, plantains, what is ripe? and cooked in what? That's what I want to know.
      I love tostones. I had a young Venezulan xchange student years back who lived in Puerta Rico and learned to make these. She fried once, put them in ice water smashed them with the bottom of a flat drinking galss, dried them and refried. Sprinkled w/salt and oh so yummy. Like a thick potato chip only better.

      1. re: Kitchen Queen
        Sam Fujisaka Mar 25, 2007 08:18 AM

        Tostones are made with unripe green plantains. Peel with a knife under running water. When frying, use corn or sunflower oil, definitely not olive oil. You'll need more than a water glass to flatten the suckers.

        1. re: Kitchen Queen
          paulj Mar 25, 2007 09:40 AM

          Ripe plantains are black. At this point they would also be at the peak of sweetness, though never as sweet as regular bananas. You'll have more luck buying them green, and letting them ripen at home than finding ripe ones at the store. A ripe one is also relatively easy to peel, though there may still be spots that require a knife.

          As to frying fat, in tropical America it most likely would be a vege oil, or maybe lard. Olive oil and butter are rarely used ffor cooking. The oil might be colored with anato.


          1. re: paulj
            Sam Fujisaka Mar 25, 2007 10:03 AM

            Or in (red) palm oil, as in Brasil and west Africa. I suspect you've seen palm oil rather than oil w/ achiote.

            1. re: paulj
              Kitchen Queen Mar 25, 2007 12:11 PM

              Thank You Paulj. These are the answers I'm looking for. I will try again.

        2. j
          jenniferdines Mar 25, 2007 07:53 AM


          This cookbook provides a wonderful introduction.

          1. QueenB Mar 25, 2007 08:09 AM

            As far as I know, tostones are made with green plantains (unripe). Here's a good pictorial explanation on how to make them:

            You can also fry the sweet plantains, but I don't think they mash them. At least, never when I've eaten them. I also believe they are called something different than tostones.

            ETA: This page also seems to have a lot of good recipes. Maybe you can find the chicken there?

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