Mofongo (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains)

Mofongo (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains)

Aunt Clara’s Dominican Cookbook concedes that mofongo (garlic-flavored mashed plantains), a dish with a special place in the hearts and stomachs of Dominicans, actually originates in the neighboring island of Puerto Rico.

Not surprisingly, I know some Dominicans who would take serious issue with that claim. Mofongo is the flagship dish in many typical Dominican restaurants like Adrian Tropical, which offers a number of variations on the theme, some Dominicans would consider it heresy to label it as a foreign import.

Chicharron (pork crackling)So what is mofongo?

Mofongo is an extremely tasty and filling dish made with plantains: fried, mashed with garlic, shaped into a ball and served in a pilón (the mortar bit of the pestle and mortar). Classic mofongo is made with chicharrón (fried pork rind) and Adrian Tropical also does a chicken version and – my choice – a garlic prawn alternative – all served with a garlicky broth to moisten the plantain and bring out the flavor. It can be eaten for lunch or supper, and is also a popular snack for late-night revelers.

Mofongo (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains)

Go to Puerto Rico and you’ll find the same thing – mofongo is all over the place there too. In fact, so much of Puerto Rican cuisine is similar to Dominican, that it’s difficult to say who invented what. There are some differences, like in the spelling: what we know as guandules (pigeon peas) in the DR is spelled gandules in PR. Similar or identical dishes sometimes have different names.

Mofongo (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains)

I had the pleasure of visiting Puerto Rico last month, and my seven-year old son gave a special vote of approval for ‘pinchos’ – that universal treat of barbecued chicken, fish or meat on a skewer also known as brochettes, kebabs or pinchitos elsewhere. Bearing in mind my less than carnivorous tendencies, I enjoyed a simple but delicious plate of garbanzos (chickpeas). Mofongo – never, ever to be confused with mondongo – is a sensitive subject. I always have to think twice before saying the word, especially when ordering in a restaurant, because I don’t know what I’d do if a steaming plate of innards was put in front of me, instead of mofongo. I’m also going to re-read this article very carefully to make sure I haven’t put my foot in it, so to speak.

Mofongo (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains)

How’s this for a compromise? Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine share the exact same roots: Taíno, African and Spanish. Both countries have Middle Eastern and Chinese immigrants, as well as European influences apart from the Spanish, the only striking difference being the Corsican influx to Puerto Rico. Later influences may have varied – for obvious reasons Puerto Rico has a much stronger US influence than the Dominican Republic, for example, while the DR has closer contact with its Haitian neighbors.

Mofongo, however, comes from the African side of the family so that’s where we shall say its origins really lie. Dominicans and Puerto Ricans are the grateful heirs.

Aunt Ilana
Mofongo Recipe (Garlic and pork mashed plantains)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Mofongo is a tasty dish made with plantains shaped into a ball and served in a pilón (a mortar). Here's how to make it with my mofongo recipe. Not to be confused with mondongo, it is a very tasty dish, easy to prepare and that has great following among Dominicans. There are many restaurants throughout the island that serve the many varieties of this dish. We are presenting here the traditional recipe.
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
For the mofongo
  • 1 lb of pork cracklings, cut into very 1" pieces
  • 1 cup of oil for frying
  • 5 unripe plantains
  • 2 tablespoons of mashed garlic
  • Salt
For the broth
  • 1 lb of beef bones (any type would do)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 sprig of coriander
  • 1 sprig of recao/cilantro ancho/culantro (optional)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • Salt
Instructions
To make the broth.
  1. In a deep pot heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Brown the meat being careful that it does not burn.
  3. Add the garlic and onion and stir.
  4. Add 4 cups of water, the coriander, recao and oregano.
  5. Cook for an hour over low heat, topping off the water every once in a while to maintain the same level.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Sieve and remove the solids.
To make the mofongo
  1. In a sauce pan heat a tablespoon of oil over very low heat and cook and stir the garlic for 1 minute. Mix in two teaspoons of salt.
  2. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  3. In a deep frying pan heat the remaining oil and fry the plantains till golden brown all over. Using a pilón (wooden mortar) mash the plantains, garlic and cracklings together.
  4. Serve garnished with the beef stock.
Notes
If you want to make pork cracklings from scratch, follow the directions in this recipe
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{ 40 comments… add one }

  • Sergio Lora May 21, 2014, 7:06 AM

    One of my fondest childhood recollection is a dish similar to this made with baked green plantain (not fried). Have you heard of a recipe like this?

  • Catherine March 30, 2014, 11:10 PM

    Hello Clara!!
    Do you have the recipe to make the chicharron? What is the cut of pork I should buy at my local butcher? And what are the spices used for seasoning? The stuff they make here is nowhere near the amazing chicharron of Villa Mella.

    • Aunt Clara April 1, 2014, 3:24 PM

      Catherine, you need pork belly for chicharrón. I don’t yet have the recipe, but it is in my list, as soon as I get pork belly from my local store. I made the one in the picture. :)

  • Sandr a October 20, 2013, 7:48 AM

    I am Puerto Rican and every time I go to PR I gotta have the mofongo. Theres nothing like it. I have made it at home for my family with shrimp and chicken and its a homerun every time.

  • shinaynay October 1, 2013, 9:40 AM

    this is so amAZING

  • Shara July 2, 2013, 5:38 PM

    Aunt Clara-
    Thank you so much for the mofongo recipe, beautiful photos and keen sense of humor. Your photogs make me want to eat the page. Gracias, Shara

  • Ernie June 16, 2013, 3:53 PM

    Love the mofongo, i leave in Africa and have tried to explain how to make but no luck yet

  • Elaine May 21, 2013, 6:46 PM

    You learn something new everyday. I could have sworn the mofongo was originated in DR.

  • Ann December 31, 2012, 12:48 PM

    Love the pictures love the recipe! I am not at all a novice cook, but I am a little confused. Nowhere does it say what to do with the bones or the cracklings? Are you supposed to brown the bones (which some people do prior to making stock)? Or brown the pork? I assume the bones go in with the water, recao, etc… But again, a little clarification would be great!!
    Thank you!

    • Aunt Clara December 31, 2012, 1:03 PM

      You are just supposed to boil everything to make broth, just as the recipe indicates. Don’t worry, if it’s not in the instructions it means you don’t have to do it.

      Please read the recipe carefully. Step 10 indicates what to do with the cracklings. :)

  • robert December 11, 2012, 12:21 PM

    here in miami beach ,the best Mofongo is at a tiny place called Jimmy Z.its in a small shopping center on 15th and alton rd…

  • Jeannette December 10, 2012, 10:39 PM

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I’ve heard that the plantanos were supposed to be boiled then mashed . . . glad I read your recipe. My husband chooses not to eat pork so the first time I had mofongo was plain no meat at all and I loved it . . . until one day I saw a menu with Mofongo de Camarrones, Mofongo con Camarrones . . . made with shrimps inside or just topped with shrimps each just delicious with a lovely garlic sauce.

    Do you have a recipe for Mofongo with Shrimps and Garlic Sauce?

    Again, thank you for sharing your recipes!
    Cucha

  • Denise August 20, 2012, 11:26 PM

    Aunt Clara,

    Thank you for clarifying TO ME that this isn’t a Dominican dish. I always thought it was. And to be quite frank I don’t understand why people are making such a big deal of this. I am Dominican and thought it was ours. So people she was right, there are some Dominicans out there that do believe it was originated in our island.

  • bywena July 28, 2012, 7:32 AM

    The taste of this wonderful cannot be described after one taste but you have described I also have had the pleasure of eating this dish and never thought that would be able to learn how to prepare it Thanks for the info

  • Lynne March 18, 2012, 3:20 PM

    I LOVE mofongo but — where can I buy it for serving at home?

    Mil gracias.

  • Sara Rodriguez March 13, 2012, 8:47 PM

    Gracias!

  • mercedes March 4, 2012, 7:12 AM

    Your instructions were great and the Mofongo came out maravilloso, thanks a bunch. It reminded me of my grandmas…excellent

  • lady Veronica January 25, 2012, 4:14 PM

    hello im from Puerto Rico and fun fact a Dominican chef said on an interview that the mofongo was introduced to the Dominican republic in the 60's :) im a Puertorican chef ;). mofongo is something very common in Puerto Rican cuisine :)

  • Maria November 30, 2011, 10:51 PM

    Oh my God… Just last week I was in Santo Domingo and at about 1:30AM found myself drooling over the Garlic Prawn Monfongo at Adrian Tropical!

    It is the very reason I am on the internet searching for the recipe!!!

  • carolyn fleming November 5, 2011, 11:56 AM

    I don’t eat meat only fish and would love a fish version of mofongo I know that there are some but cannot find one
    Thanks Carolyn

    • lady Veronica January 25, 2012, 4:15 PM

      make the mofongo and to acompanny it make some fish or some salteed codfish

  • Al October 28, 2011, 9:34 AM

    Hello,

    Can you please tell me exactly where Adrian Tropical is located in Santo Domingo? Do they have a restaurant in Santiago and Puerto Plata? I would love to try out their Mofongo!

    Thanks.

    • Aunt Clara October 29, 2011, 2:00 PM

      The one that is easiest to find is on Malecon.

  • Jay August 3, 2011, 10:19 PM

    Do you buy store bought beef stock or do you make it yourself? If so, how do you make it?

  • yasmine July 29, 2011, 1:39 PM

    sorry, i just went back and re read the comments about pork rinds, i see

  • yasmine July 29, 2011, 1:37 PM

    correction, i meant without broth? also i would like to know what pork cracklings are, are they pork rinds?

  • yasmine July 29, 2011, 1:31 PM

    any way to make this just as tasty without any meat?

    • Aunt Clara August 2, 2011, 9:40 AM

      I have tried one with shrimps. I will try to make it soon. Or do you mean vegan?

  • Aunt Clara June 14, 2011, 7:06 AM

    I have no doubts myself, but I have met many people who do.

  • Nathali March 20, 2011, 9:54 PM

    Can you go into how to cook the meat for this, or perhaps link to a recipe that does go into it? I'm a complete novice at cooking and don't know how to go about it without instructions.

  • Joanne Brooks February 26, 2011, 4:33 PM

    I was riding on SOBT in Orlando today and saw a Latin restaurant advertising mofongo. I didn't know what that was so I googled it. It sounds delicious. But what are pork cracklins? Can you buy them in the grocery store? Are they the same thing as pork rinds in a bag? Please advise.

    • Aunt Clara February 28, 2011, 7:11 AM

      If you are Dominican then you need chicharrones, if not, and the word means nothing to you, you need deep-fried pork skin, it is a bit more tender, meatier and softer than industrial pork rinds.

      • Aunt Clara February 28, 2011, 7:16 AM

        BTW, do a Google image search on "pork crackling" and you'll see what I mean.

  • Ewa February 6, 2011, 9:34 AM

    Hello! I'm so glad you found me on flickr! I visited DR in December and I completely fell in love with Dominican cuisine :) The recipes you publish are so easy to make that I'll start trying them right away… ok, as soon as I find plantains in Poland, which is not that easy.

    Greetings from Poland!

    • Aunt Clara February 6, 2011, 1:25 PM

      Good luck on your search. If there is any sizable African community in Poland you should start your search there. Thanks for visiting.

  • yamely brito January 13, 2011, 10:21 AM

    es una de mis comidas favoritas me gusta mucho mi mofongo.