This weekend a friend and I visited Santo Domingo’s Chinatown, an uptown section of Santo Domingo that Chinese immigrants (recent and old) have made their home. Some of the ones we met didn’t yet speak any Spanish, some spoke Spanish with a heavy accent.
We met two of them that were listening to, and enjoying, merengue music, my friend commented that they were aplatanados.
If you are Dominican I am sure you know what that word means. If you are not, I will explain. Roughly – and maybe wrongly- translated aplatanado means plantain-like. Being that plantains are a typical, indispensable and common addition to our daily meals it has apparently being chosen to represent our sense of being Dominicans in the same manner that Americans have chosen the apple pie.
It is not necessary to be a Dominican citizen to be aplatanado, actually, it implies that you are a foreigner that has adapted to our culture. Being aplatanado means that you eat our food, have learned to dance our music, you drink our rum, and have learned to love our country–warts and all.
Being told that you are aplatanado is a compliment, it says that you have been accepted, we think of you as one of us.
So, if you are not a Dominican citizen but you visit our website often, if you recognize yourself in our stories, and you know the taste of the dishes in our site. If you crave for Sancocho every time it rains, and you know the difference between locrio and asopao, we hereby declare you Officially Aplatanado.
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of large shrimps, whole
- 12 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- ⅛ cup seedless olives, sliced
- 4 cups of rice
- 2 teaspoons of salt (or more, to taste)
- 3 sprigs of parsley, minced
- Peel the shrimps, removing heads and shells. Reserve the shrimps.
- Boil the heads and shells in the water over low heat until the liquid reduces to half.
- Sift to remove heads and shells. Reserve liquid.
- In an thick-bottom pot heat the oil over low heat. Add bell peppers and garlic and cook and stir about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and olives. Pour in 6 cups of the broth you had reserved.
- When it breaks the boil, season with salt to taste, add the rice and stir. Simmer over medium heat. Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking. When all the liquid has evaporated add the shrimps and mix well.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir, moving the rice at the bottom to the top. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes. Uncover and try the rice for doneness, it should be firm but tender inside.
- If necessary, cover and simmer another 5 minutes.
- Serve with salad, tostones and habichuelas guisadas.