Plantains are the less sweet, starchier equivalent to the banana.Commonly referred to as a “cooking banana” or plátano in Spanish, a plantain can easily be mistaken for a banana. While bananas are much more popular in the United States and Europe, plantains are an extremely important staple for people in tropical countries. They are technically fruits, but much like the tomato and unlike the banana, they are eaten and cooked as if they were a vegetable.
Unlike bananas, plantains are almost always cooked before eating. In fact, they are rather unpleasant raw, so don’t be tricked by their banana-like features. Cooked plantains are nutritionally very similar to a potato, calorie-wise, but contain more of certain vitamins and minerals. They’re a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and B-6, and the minerals magnesium and potassium.
Stages of Ripeness
Like many fruits and vegetables, the sugar level in a plantain increases as it ripens.
- Green plantains are very starchy and hard. You must cook them to eat them. They can be used much like a potato (think chopped & put in soups or mashed as a side dish).
- Yellow plantains still require cooking, but they are sweet (unlike green plantains). These work well for frying and steaming.
- Black (super-ripe) plantains do not have to be cooked; they can be eaten raw. They have soft flesh and a scent like a banana, though still not as sweet as typical bananas. When these super-ripe plantains are fried, they are referred to as "platanos maduros" (ripe plantains) or "platanos fritos" (fried plantains).
Ways to Serve Plantains
There are so many ways to serve plantains, but our favorite and most simple is pan frying them. It’s so easy! All you need is an extra ripe plantain and butter to make what will probably become your new favorite side dish.
It only takes three easy steps:
- Melt Butter: In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt your butter.
- Cook Plantains: Place peeled and sliced plantains in a single layer. Cook plantains on each side, for about 2-3 minutes, or until they reach a caramelized brown color.
- Serve: Transfer to a plate covered with newspaper or paper towels and allow them to drain for a minute or two. Serve warm and enjoy!
Be sure to use ripe plantains: Your plantains will not crystallize enough if they’re not ripe. They’re best when the outsides are dark. If you’re worried your plantains aren’t ripe enough, you can sprinkle some sugar on them while they cook or wait until they ripen.
If you want to make your plantains a bit more savory, substitute the butter for 1/4 cup of olive oil and a couple teaspoons of minced garlic. You can also sprinkle them with coarse sea salt for a sweet and savory delight.
What To Serve with Plantains
- Pork: Pork and plantains go extremely well together. Try them with a Slow Cooker Ropa Viejaor any other pork recipe!
- Rice:Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice, or arroz con pollo, is a classic dish to serve with fried plantains.
- Beans: Serve with black beans for a delicious sweet and savory combo.
Have fun exploring new recipes using plantains. If you need help choosing the right cookware, we are here to help! The associates at Chef’s Corner Store are always happy to answer any questions you have about products or uses. Based in Centennial, CO,Chef’s Corner Store offers a premium selection of products for your kitchen, creating endless possibilities. Visit our website or showroom to learn more.