Ay, ay, ay! Patita, espérate mamacita! My nanny repeated, as she snatched the hot plantain tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, from my hands. Her hands were more resistant, she insisted, as they were older and had cooked so much. She would hold my chosen package with an open hand, so the camotero (sweet potato street cart man, who also sold plantains) could tear up the foil. As the steam flew up to the skies, he poured a more-than-any-child-could-wish-for amount sweetened condensed milk… and so it fell, sweet ounce, by thick ounce, onto that moist, rich, filling and immensely satisfying treat. Sheer joy, that was.
I devoured it in what seemed a couple bites, just to lick the last but yummiest remains from the crumbled foil. There we were, standing on the street corner where my family lived, mischievously laughing: it was already getting dark, almost dinnertime, and no, no, no, I wasn’t supposed to be having any. Oh dear, how I miss that woman! Now every time I eat a plantain, I get a sparkle of that sheer joy.
So I understand my boys when they rush out to the street, their heartbeats pumping so loud I can clap their rhythms, as I scream out wait, wait, wait!, as that annoying ice cream truck song approaches. Yes, right before dinner, thank you Mr. Ice Cream Man. I once felt that too, with an even more shrilling whistle coming out from the camotero street cart.
We used to eat cooked ripe plantains throughout the year, and ironically, they seemed to taste even better during the hot and rainy summer months. As some people say, sometimes hot, beats the heat…
(Plantains on my dining room table, the one covered in black spots is ripe and ready to be cooked)
Plantains, called macho bananas, plátano macho, in many areas of Mexico, can just change gears and move from one course to another. Eaten as described above, they make an original dessert or an anytime sweet treat. Covered in foil and thrown on the grill, and along some grilled meat or chicken with a spicy kick, they make an incredible side. All you need is a simple salad and you have a wholesome tasty meal. If you forgot to eat them and you are already moving to dessert, just drizzle some sweet condensed milk, honey, sugar, Rompope, or ice cream on top! I don’t think one can say this about many other ingredients… maybe sweet potatoes or grilled pineapples…
Another option to eat ripe plantains, which is extremely popular, is to fry them, plátanos fritos. They are peeled, thickly and diagonally sliced (to make them pretty, why not?) and as they brown in the hot oil, their sugar caramelizes. So when you start to bite in, you get a sweet crunch, and when you are deep into the bite, you get a gently mushy and soft finish.
In Mexican cooking, fried plantains are famously eaten on top of white rice, as in the main post photo. This brings a nice contrast of sweet and soft with savory and coarse. If you want to go over the top, drizzle some Mexican or Latin style cream or sour cream as a finishing touch. Try that… and you will have a piece of sheer bliss too.
NOTE: Click here to read about plantains, how to buy them and how to recognize when they are ripe. Of course, there are other ways to eat them when they are not ripe, as they do in the Gulf Coast, but that is a topic for a future post… meanwhile enjoy one of these three ways to eat them ripe, or try them all!
White Rice and Fried Plantains
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- 2 cups Mahatma® Rice white rice
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for frying plantains
- 1/2 cup white onion finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock prepared or homemade
- 1 celery stalk cut in half
- 1 fresh parsley sprig
- 1 tablespoon lime juice or to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 2 ripe plantains peeled and sliced
- 1 serrano chile
- sour cream to garnish, optional
To prepare the rice:
- Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with very hot water; let it soak anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring softly for 2 to 3 minutes. Incorporate the onion and stir, from time to time, until the rice begins to change to a milky-white color and feels and sounds heavier, as if it were grains of sand; about 3 to 4 more minutes.Pour in the chicken stock, along with the celery, parsley, lime juice, salt and whole chile.
- When it comes to a rolling boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the rice grains don’t seem soft and cooked through, add a bit more chicken broth or water and let it cook for another 5 more minutes or so.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork when ready to serve. Place the cooked plantains (below) on top. Place sour cream on the side for people to add to their rice and plantains if they like.
To prepare the plantains:
- Note: The skin of the plantain should be almost entirely black when it is mature and ready to use in this recipe.
- Peel the plantains and slice them diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- In a sauté pan, over medium heat, add about 1/4-inch of oil. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the plantain slices and fry until browned but not blackened, about 2 minutes per side, the oil should be bubbling around their edges of the plantain slices as they cook.
- Remove the plantains from the oil and drain them on a plate covered with paper towels.
48comments inThree tasty ways to eat ripe plantains
Hola Pati! I tried the fried plantains and they came out pretty tough. Did I cook them too long? How are the ones in the picture above prepared?
Hmmm I can think of two things that may be happening: the plantains you used were unripe. Their peel should be practically black. Or sometimes because of over refrigeration in the transport process, they go from green to black, without being able to mature as they should. Try to buy them when they are already looking yellow outside (or with black spots but over yellow, not green) and let them ripen at home. And yes the ones in the picture are fried. Give them another go, Jasmine!
I love the taste of the fried plantains, but the ones I have tried have a batter on them, can you let me know what it is and do I fry them once or twice?
Of course you can coat them in batter. You only need to fry them once.
Thank you for these recipes! I tried plantains for the very first time last night and it was a disaster! I baked them for 25 minutes after I had sliced and sprinkled them with cinnamon. I think they were not ripe enough. I will not be discouraged though!! Any tips for selecting ripe ones? Oh and I’ve heard of giving them an orange flavor??? Any ideas on that?
Yep, to get ripe plantains their skin has to be almost entirely black. If what you find at the store are yellow plantains, just bring them home and let them ripen at room temperature. To cook them and get most of them, either bake them in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil or peel, slice and fry them. If you slice them and bake them without the peel, you will get hard chips. If you want to make chips: you have to super slice them thin and bake them until toasted….
Thank you for your blag and recipes!! I have always seen these in grocery stores, but never knew anything about them. Now, I have a great reason to try them!! They sound delicious!
They are so good, Melanye! You will have to let me know what you try with them…
One of my favourite plantain dishes. Found it on the web years ago and as I am lucky enough to have a passion fruit vine that is laden, together with limes falling from my trees and several plantain trees, I make this dish routinely and serve as a veg side.
Baked Plantains with Passion Fruit
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Number of servings: 4
• 4 small ripe plantains, with nearly black skins,peeled and sliced
• 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
• juice of 3 passion fruits
• 1/4 cup honey
• juice and zest of one Florida lime
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Peel, slice, and arrange ripe plantains in a glass pie pan or baking dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining ingredients.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Hi Taylor, Sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing & I will have to try it!
What a lovely post! my mouth is watering 🙂 My mother is a very skilled and adventurous cook… lucky me, and it was her who made me fall in love with plantains. She has served them many ways but my favourite is pan fried in butter an served with coconut ice cream, so so so yummy!
Thank you for the great story and the recipes.
Thank you, Yas. Your mom’s pan-fried plantains with coconut ice cream sound out of this world!
Pati, thank you for posting the recipes! I’m looking forward to trying the baked version. The sc milk on top sounds divinely decadent. We have many Latin restaurants in our area, and while the plantains have always been my favorite, I’ve never had them baked. That will change soon!
Hola Andrea, Let me know what you think of them baked!
They were great! I skipped the sweetened, condensed milk, and had them plain. Very good!
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog while I am at my volunteer job at the County Extension office on a slow afternoon. I want to caution Janet about using commercially grown corn husks for her recipes. Corn is a heavily treated crop, both for insect pests and for fungi. If you know the corn is grown organically, as is the small crop my family grows, then it should be safe.
Thank you for jumping in, Sandra!
Hello – I have cooked plantains several times recently. They turned out starchy like a potato. Am I buying the wrong banana or am I am over cooking them. I fried them.
I can think of two things that may be happening: they are green (green or yellow outside) or unripe. Their peel should be practically black. However, sometimes because of over refrigeration in the transport process, they go from green to black, without being able to mature as they should. Try to buy them when they are already looking yellow outside (or with black spots but over yellow, not green) and let them ripen at home.
I saw your show on PBS Springfield ohio. It made me so hungry to for Mexican food. (which I love) I am wondering if you have a recipe to make your own Spinach Wraps in stead of buying them from the store? I am going to try the Plantain and I am going to try Bobbi’s recipe and could I use the inside corn hucks from the corn fields which are abundant in Ohio? Sounds so easy and GOOD and I’ll bet a small dab of ice cream would go good with it also. YUMMY
thanks Pati and you have a wonderful show and I am going to find it on both of our PBS channels. One in Columbus and Springfield.
Hola Jan, Thank you so much for writing! Yes, you can try the fresh corn husks and let me know how it turns out. Also, I will try to post the Spinach Wraps soon. All the best to you…
Hi Pati… Love your show and I hope you NEVER change the way you express yourself, the way you talk or the way you write. I used your Lamb Barbacoa for Mother’s Day (but used Boston Butt in lieu of lamb as we couldn’t afford the lamb). And I did something, well, I guess American with the plantains for dessert.
I hadn’t seen it before and was asked for the recipe by several people. I didn’t get it out of a book – it just popped into my head as I was thinking about making tamales. And I saw Rick Bayless’ Tamales Dulces so I figured….. well, I’m lazy, let’s do something stupidly easy. I’m sure some one else has done it before but I thought you might like it for “easy things for plantains”.
I took some corn husks, moistened them so they were easy to fold. I rubbed some butter on them, peeled 1/2 ripened plantains and cut them in half. I put each half on a corn husk with a small chunk of butter and sprinkled them with grated brown sugar. I wrapped them up – kind of like a tamale – tied the wrap with a strip of corn husk and popped them onto a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 20/30 minutes until the plantain was soft and the butter/sugar was like caramel.
Everyone loved the presentation (and I hadn’t even thought about that) – they ate them straight out of the husks (but be careful – they drip a bunch) and our Cuban friends asked “Where did you get this recipe?”…..
Just thought I’d share since you share such WONDERFUL recipes with all of us.
There is a 4th way to add to the list…Plaintains with Crema Mexicana. Crema Mexicana can be difficult to find in the USA, but we also use sour cream and sprinkle it with granulated sugar as a substitute.
I love your website and have shared it with my mother, who is from Mexico City.
Thanks for the delicious recipes,
YUM, Suzanne, I love them that way too.
My husband and I have become addicted to your show on Create channel. But I am curious – your last name – do you also have some Yugoslav heritage?
So glad to hear!!! Jinich comes from my husband´s paternal grandfather, who came from Russia to Mexico.
I am ready to to your plantain cake and now I do not find the recipe in your web page! Please send it to me.
Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!
Hola Kattya, Here it is: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/2012/11/_fluffy_plantain_and_pecan/
I grew up in Costa Rica and one of my best food memories is the fried platano which we had often. Another dish we had only occasionally, but which was also good, was a baked casserole called Platanos a la Gloria. Is there a Mexican equivalent for that and would you happen to have a recipe for it. It was basically platanos, sliced and baked in milk and who knows what else.
I just came across your show recently and it has become my favorite cooking show.
Thank you Marcia!!! What you say sounds delicious… I’ve two plantain things to share with you for now…
HOpe to have more for you soon, will explore…
pati, just saw your cooking show on WTTW chicago, love your simple repices, thank you my family needed that!, angela
Hi Angela, I’m so happy to hear you found the show!! I hope you have a chance to try some recipes for your family.
Your show airs locally here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) on PBS and is wonderful.
Thank you for your blog and recipies, your photos are very good too. Beautiful. Thank you so much.
CJ, You’re so kind!! Thank you for watching!
What is the secret to making these really mushy like they have in the restaurants. I have tried so many times and can’t get them to taste that way…..
the more i read on your web site the more i am wowed
Thank you for your recipes!! I have never cooked a plantain (but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!!!) and a co-worker gave me one about two weeks ago. Now thanks to your blog I know how to cook it!!
Nice one.chicken stew on white rice with fried plantain at the corner is awesome.i wd try d grilld plantain
I have Always loved “Ripe Plantains ” Not Being Of The Latino Persuasion it’s Clear, That I Don’t Have A Clue On The Preparation,,( It Takes Me An Hour,To Make “Minute Rice “lol AND
I Still Use A Smoke Alarm As A Timer … I Like Them Cooked In The Frying Pan,,,With That Beautiful Batter,,Sweet….Hmmm Getting Hungry Already…What’s The Easiest Way To Prepare Them.The Local Fire Department Has been Alerted And Is Standing By….Thank You For Your Time And Considerations….
Ciao………….. Frankie C…
Hello Frankie C,
I love plantains too! Two of the easiest ways are right here on this post: Either bake, or just slice and fry. It is very easy. And no need to call the fire department!
Hasta el dia de hoy, diciembre 28,2009, vi el programa de Paula’s best dishes. Me dio mucho gusto ver a una mexicana en foodnetwork, alguien que represente nuestra cocina y que se apegue a los ingredientes originales. Felicidades y espero verte con mas frecuencia.
Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. It always gets me fired up to cook something!
I have a question about the Baked Plantains for Dessert. When you say to wrap the plantains in foil, should the plantains be peeled or is the skin left on while they are baked?
Hi Kari, many thanks for your comments! For the plantains, keep the skin on (thanks to your comment I just added that in the recipe, thanks!) and wrap them in foil. I have a personal preference to drizzle them with sweetened condensed milk…
Mi nombre es Melinda Herbert y vivo en Phoenix,AZ. Honestamente nunca habia escuchado de usted pero ahora la vi en el programa de Paula y ME ENCANTO!! Sus recetas y su acento me hicieron sentir cerca de mi pais y muy orgullosa de ver gente mexicana en ese tipo de programas. Terminandose el programa inmediatamente la busque por internet y aqui estoy escribiendo mi comentario en su blog. Aparte de bonita, muy simpatica y orgullosa de su cultura! Me encanto!!!! Por favor digame si tiene libros, o su propio programa ..o algo mas. Desde ahora soy su fan. Muchas gracias por dejar buena y sincera impresion de todos los mexicanos!! Voy a ir de compras por esos platanos machos que me dejaron con boca abierta(y babeando)=). Muchas GRacias!!
Muchas gracias por su mensaje tan lindo, gracias por buscarme por aqui. Todavia no tengo un libro, pero con mucho gusto le aviso en cuanto este listo. Mientras tanto seguire posting aqui en mi sitio sobre recetas, articulos e historias.
Muchos saludos y espero encontrarla mas por aqui!!
Pati, I’d take you up on that if I didn’t live in Toronto! Tho’ I’m going to try to find these and serve on Sunday and if that doesn’t work, I will be in the US soon enough 🙂
Wow, your blog is gorgeous. I love plantains but have never cooked with them. Here’s hoping my crappy local supermarkets carry some.
Many thanks! If you can’t find them, that shouldn’t stop you. Let me know where you live and I will send some to you…