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How to avoid Soggy Plantains?

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Hi all; I love plantains to accompany my beans-and-rice side dishes for Southern or Latin-American meals.

I recently bought some wonderfully ripe (black) plantains and rushed home to cook them up to go alongside panko crusted Cajun fried catfish, brown rice and black beans. The fish, rice and beans came out awesome... the plantains, not so.

I peeled the plantains, sliced them on a diagonal, about a quarter inch thick, then placed them in very hot oil in a frying pan on the stovetop. They browned up nicely on both sides (after flipping them) then I drained them on paper towels. When I tried to get them off of the towels they stuck to them, but I finally got them off. They tasted lovely, carmelized and just delicious. But guests didn't want to eat them as they were flabby and gooey, no real texture to them.

Any advice on how to prevent this in the future? I briefly thought that dredging them lightly in flour or corn flour would maybe help, but I don't recall ever eating a good plantain that (to my knowledge) was breaded.

Thanks in advance for your advice

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  1. Somewhere I learned to fry them, then smash them down with the back of the spatula when they are nice and browned. Then some of the soft middle part gets fried up, too, so there's lots of crispy exterior. Be sure you get them crispy enough, and maybe don't leave them sitting on paper towels.
    I wonder if the riper ones are moister causing this? I think the method above helps.

    What a great sounding meal you made!

    1 Reply
    1. re: fern

      Hmmm I will try that flattening out. I noticed (while chowing on the leftovers) that the edges were nice and crispy, and for me nothing beats the taste of a very ripe fried plantain, so even cold from the fridge the next day they were fine for me. So I'll try mashing them a bit flatter next time, and also maybe draining them on newsprint (not with writing on it, just plain) instead of paper towels...

      Thanks for the compliment on the meal, it was good, and even better while eating leftovers in front of the open fridge the next day :-).

    2. In my experience, if the plantain is quite ripe, then the fried slices with be soft and even gooey, but taste 'just delicious'. I don't think you can fry ripe slices to crispness without burning them. I prefer them this way, though I can understand why others might not.

      Ripe ones might, though, work in a batter, such as a tempura. That's not traditional, though I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese immigrants to S American (most notably Brazil and Peru) did this.

      It's the less mature ones that work best fried, flattened, and fried again. Or sliced thin and fried like potato chips.

      Another thing to do with very ripe ones is to fry them in some butter, and then sweeten (with piloncillo and cinnamon), as a dessert.

      3 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Thanks paulj, I agree that even the gooey ones were 'just delicious' it would've been nice if my guests had agreed. Never thought of putting a batter on the ripe plantains (I don't care for the less mature ones, they just don't have that same sweet taste IMO). I'll pick up some next shopping trip as there were tons of the black skinned, ripe plantains at the market and I sense another batch coming up soon! Never tried them as dessert, would you serve them hot with vanilla ice cream (since this is such a "health conscious" thread :-)?

        1. re: ideabaker

          Here's a sweet plantain recipe from Mark Bittman
          ttp://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/04/recipe-of-the-day-baked-plantains/

          1. re: paulj

            Thank you, paulj. I will try this recipe! Don't know if baked plantains would have the same sweetness, but am always willing to try something new cooking wise.

      2. How to avoid Soggy Plantains?

        Buy ones that are less ripe. They won't be as soggy but won't taste as sweet.

        9 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          Right - to make tostones (and there's a great post with directions on the board), you need unripe plantains (i.e., the peel should be green), and preferably filipino (sp?) ones. I can't remember what it's called, but fried ripe plantains have a different name.

          Edit: Here's the tostones link:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4875...

          The others are called platanos maduros (mature).

          1. re: MMRuth

            MMRuth, you always come through for me! I saw the Tostones link, but not one for the mature plantains. Unfortunately it is the Patanos Maduros I prefer, those crunchy tostones don't have the flavor I'm looking for (that decadent natural sweetness). I'm willing to put up with my guests' rejection of the softer plantains, hey, more leftovers for me!

          2. re: scubadoo97

            I thought someone would suggest that. But it's the really black ones that taste so wonderfully sweet. I did see some that were dark yellow with lots of black on them, they will be a bit less ripe and sweet. For the next batch I'll pick up a couple of those for a little experiment! Thanks!

            1. re: ideabaker

              Maduros are never crunchy, always soft and sweet. They have the carmelized sides but are still soft.

              1. re: ESNY

                Yes, ESNY, those are the ones I like so much (Maduros). There is nothing like the incredible sweetness of the carmelized plantains! I'm going to try some of the suggested techniques here and maybe my next batch will come out better. Thanks for your response!

                1. re: ideabaker

                  You might be able to keep the maduros a little crisper by draining on a wire rack/grid instead of on paper and perhaps giving the tops a light pat with a paper towel to pull off a little more oil.

                  I've used a spatter screen for draining delicate fried things before that has worked fairly well.

                  1. re: weezycom

                    weezycom, I have a splatter screen and never thought to use it to drain, but see how that could work... I will definitely give that method a try (then I just have to figure out how to get the oil out of the screen...). Thanks for the suggestion!

                    1. re: ideabaker

                      lay the splatter screen flat between newsprint and weight down for a few minutes. That pulls most of the grease off. then just run through the dishwasher.

                      1. re: weezycom

                        Lay it flat between newsprint? On both sides? Or just on top of the splatter screen with a weight on top? Sorry to be so precise, just want to try to get it right... thanks in advance for your help!

          3. Drain you "tains" on ripped up brown paper bags - they will not stick.

            BTW, one way to actually accentuate their sweetness is to sprinkle them lightly with sea salt.

            4 Replies
            1. re: HSBSteveM

              I second the wire drying rack. That should do it.

              1. re: HSBSteveM

                We like the black ones but most of the people I know (west indian) who cook the plantains go for yellow with spots. those can be fried or broiled an maintain their firmness - or I would say, leatheriness. Ssince these plantains are not as sweet and luscious, some cooks I know sauce them with a mix of honey and grated fresh ginger, which is nice.

                I like to cook the very ripe plantains in butter or olive oil (or a mix of butter and oil) at a moderate temp - after they are mostly done, I will compress them to smash out some of the insides, sprinkle with sugar, turn up the heat and fry til well browned - you can get a bit of caramelized crust and reduce the relative thickness of the soft part through this technique, but be careful, they burn fast..

                As noted above, you must salt these - it makes all the diff in the flavor - they should be served ASAP after cooking

                Hispanic restaurants deepfry these sweet plantains til light brown, and that method can also successful, even in keeping intact the fruit structure.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  jen kalb, what a thorough explanation of how to cook these, and totally new to me! I will need to print out your instructions and try them (while drying them on the metal splatter screen for good measure). Thank you so much for your super directions. Once I try them out I will report back here.

                2. re: HSBSteveM

                  HSBSteveM, I just bought a bunch of paper bag lunchbags at the grocery (in NZ they give them free to store mushrooms inside, and that works great... the mushrooms last for weeks in the fridge). I can see how the plantains wouldn't stick as easily to the bags... hey, I have a hundred, why not try it out? :-) Thank you for your suggestion; was considering newsprint, but the bags are here and should work fine. Will let you know how it works out. Again, thank you.

                3. See this post here:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3690...

                  Don't dry on a towel, use a wire rack.