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Apr 3, 2008 11:19 AM

Very dark, soft, caramelized plantains--how?

I used to eat at a restaurant in Beverly Hills called Bossa Nova just for their delicious plantains. They were listed on the menu as fried plantains, and they were very soft, and extremely dark and sweet. I have tried to recreate them on my own with limited success. The closest I could find was a recipe online for "platanos en tentacion" which involves frying the ripe plantains in oil and butter, then boiling them in a sugar syrup until it is reduced to a glaze. They were much sweeter than the ones I am trying to create (which may have been cooked with sugar, but which were not "glazed"). Also, the plantains were firm inside, despite the fact that they were almost completely black (less than 10% yellow left), and that the first step in the recipe is to beat the plantains with a wooden spoon before peeling them to soften them up.

I have considered slicing them lenghwise into a couple of pieces rather than on a slant, to create thinner slices, in the hopes that they will cook more thoroughly and be softer (the outside of the fruit seems softer than the core, which always remains firm for me). Also, maybe beating them more vigorously to soften them even more before peeling. I was also thinking about boiling them until they were soft and then frying them.

So, any ideas or recipes you can share? I have many more plantains ripening right now, so I'll be trying another method soon, and I'd appreciate any advice or help.



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  1. I think a lot of restaurants deep-fry their plaintains, which is why they are so good.

    What I do at home, though, is this
    1. pan fry them on low heat until soft (but still able to hold its shape)
    2. remove from pan and place on paper towels and cool completely
    3. when ready to eat, heat up pan with oil to 350 or so
    4. return plaintains to pan and fry until dark and crispy

    I tend cut my plaintains on the bias, about 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick.

    Good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Vshu

      exactly how I do mine. I have family in Honduras and plantains are a staple down there -- however, the deep-fried method gets you a much more savory than sweet plantain.

      There's another method that involves drizzling half-rotted plantains with oil and baking them, which gets them much softer and sweeter, but they aren't fried. I prefer them fried with sour cream...mmm...

      1. re: Vshu

        Those are tostones right? Made with unripened plantains?

      2. You'll be surprised how black plantains need to look before they are sweet and ripe. If you want it sweet...they will look almost rotten. Experiment by buying a few plantains and letting nature run its course and sampling one every couple of days until you find the sweet spot.

        4 Replies
        1. re: fmed

          Yeah, one of the ones from yesterday was quite soft and entirely black. A portion of it, though, was slimy and smelled like it had started fermenting. Should I have just used that, or cut that portion away? It's such a fine line between ripe and rotting.

          1. re: angusb

            I would have cut off the rotting end. Did you leave it to ripen at room temperature?

            1. re: fmed

              Yes, I left it to ripen at room temp. Is there another option?

              1. re: angusb

                No - you are doing it right. Don't refrigerate....but you know that.

        2. I cook it the way I was taught in Grenada: wait til they are jet black, peel and cut lengthwise; fry in butter(a precious commodity). If you want a little extra sweetness you can drizzle a touch of honey; some people add the lime for the sweet-sour thing or even allspice to echo a B. Fosters thing, etc.

          1. For sweetening, try the raw brown sugar that comes in cones, piloncillo. Make a syrup by boiling one (or more) of those cones in water.


            1. I agree that the error is that they aren't quite ripe enough. There shouldn't be any yellow left at all, and they should give when squeezed. I just cut them in chunks, maybe 1/2 inch and saute them in oil, keep turning so they don't burn. The smashing isn't part of my recipe (they will be softer rather than crispy if you don't smash them), The cooking should be all you need to caramelize them if they're really ripe.

              Allspice is a nice seasoning. In Jamaica they make a version of patty (pastry turnover) with allspice flavored sweetened plantain filling (for some reason died bright pink). I often find the meat patties in the US but almost never the "plantain tarts". I really miss those.