Lots of people passing through my kitchen are fans of Tostones – a savory, twice-fried snack from unripened plantain. Guests of mine who claim they “don’t like fried food” will find themselves making an exception with these. The recent trend in making smashed potatoes seems strikingly similar to this traditional Latin American appetizer. After trying this simple recipe, you will see why. And if frying seems too overwhelming, just know that it’s not so scary when it’s only a shallow fry in a skillet.
A major rule of tostones (and any plantain based dish) is that you absolutely cannot reheat them. Trust me, I’ve tried it in every creative way possible. Serve these as appetizers freshly warm off the stove. I absolutely love to pair these with guacamole in place of tortilla chips. If you end up loving these as much as I do, it’s worth buying a traditional Latin American kitchen gadget called a Tostonera. It is designed to most successfully flatten tostones after the first fry. Without a tostonera, any flat surface can be used such as the bottom of a salad plate or the side of a butcher knife.
- 1 green plantain (for one single serving)
- 1 tbs kosher salt, plus more for seasoning to taste
- canola oil (for frying)
- Peeling green plantains. Cut off the tips at both ends and set aside. On the long, outside edge, cut an vertical incision in only the peel from end to end, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Create a similar incision along the opposite inside edge. Starting in the center of the outside edge and working your way to the ends, use your thumbs to gently pry open the incision to loosen the peel. Gradually slide your thumb between the peel and the flesh to remove the peel completely. Be sure to shave off any remaining peel residue from the flesh so you are left with a clean plantain.
- In medium bowl, prepare salt water with kosher salt. Cut peeled plantains crosswise into 1 inch pieces and soak them in salt water for 20 minutes. This helps add a nice crisp and brings out their natural flavor.
- Fill skillet with canola oil 1/2 inch deep, approximately 1 cup for an 8 inch skillet. Keep in mind that the oil level will rise when plantains are added.
- Heat oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. You can also use the flesh from the ends to test the oil. When placed in the hot oil, the fry should be significant and lively, but not loud and scary.
- Remove plantains from salt water and pat dry with napkins. Using tongs, quickly (and gently) add them all to the hot oil standing on their flat ends, half submerged. Cook until half of each piece turns a deep yellow in color and are just beginning to turn slightly golden brown. Flip each plantain and cook the other halves similarly. Once cooked all the way through, the first fry is complete. Remove from heat and briefly cover oil with splatter screen for safety.
- With the oil still hot and empty, be sure to do this step as quickly as possible. Using any flat surface such as the bottom of a salad plate (preferably a tostonera), flatten each plantain to the thickness of pancakes. Return them in batches to the hot oil for the second fry.
- Cook both sides until a deep golden in color. As each one finishes, gradually remove from oil and let the batch rest on napkins to cool and soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt to your liking and serve. At this point some like to customize their tastiness and sprinkle the finished them with additional seasonings of their choice, such as garlic powder, chili powder or cayenne.
Yield: About 6 or 8 tostones, depending on the size. This is enough for one person, so plan your amounts accordingly.