Mangú (Mashed Plantains)

This Mangú recipe (Mashed plantains) is one of the best known and most representative of the Dominican cuisine, and Dominicans' official breakfast dish.

This Mangú (Mashed Plantains) recipe is one of Dominicans’ favorite dishes, and yet we sometimes hear that “El platano embrutece”. It means that eating plantains is associated with intellectual inferiority. The popular extension of this myth is that children who eat corn flakes are more intelligent than those who eat Mangú.

Could this be true? What lies behind this saying? To be honest, I think I already knew the answer to the question when I first came across this belief, but I thought I’d look into it anyway.

This Mangú recipe (Mashed plantains) is one of the best known and most representative of the Dominican cuisine, and Dominicans' official breakfast dish.

According to my research, plantains are nutritionally beneficial, they have more than twenty times the amount of vitamin A, about three times the vitamin C, double the magnesium, and almost twice the potassium as a banana. Very low in fat and sodium, they are cholesterol-free and offer a good source of fibre. One-half cup cooked slices contains about 89 calories. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

In the opposite corner, is a packet of Corn Flakes. 100g of cornflakes contains 370 calories, 84g carbohydrates, 7g of protein, 0.8g fat and 2.5g of fibre. Also a reasonable enough listing. What it doesn’t mention outright is the sugar content, which is as much as four teaspoons of sugar per serving. More so if you add sugar to your cornflakes, which most people tend to do.

This Mangú recipe (Mashed plantains) is one of the best known and most representative of the Dominican cuisine, and Dominicans' official breakfast dish.

I looked up the nutritional information for the best known brand of corn flakes, but did not lose sight of the fact that for Dominicans, corn flakes (pronounced ‘conflé’) is the generic word for any breakfast cereal, many of which are junkier than standard corn flakes, with even more sugar and artificial colorings.

In both cases it also depends on how you eat the plantain or the cornflakes. Most children eat cornflakes with some sugar and some milk. Plantains for breakfast are usually eaten as mangú, which involves boiling the plantains and mashing them with some salt and oil. Accompanied by fried cheese or salami. A little heavy on the system, perhaps, but nutritious enough. It also depends on how monotonous your diet is. If you eat little else but plantains it is not as beneficial as a varied diet that includes plantains.

I realize too that I am making a huge assumption in that I am linking good nutrition to intelligence. I’m applying the information that says that children who eat a good breakfast do better at school, so maybe that’s it. What I can’t accept is that there should be a difference between children who eat corn flakes and children who eat mangú.

This Mangú recipe (Mashed plantains) is one of the best known and most representative of the Dominican cuisine, and Dominicans' official breakfast dish.

There is a socio-cultural element here and that’s probably where the myth originates. Mangú is a traditional Dominican breakfast, eaten in the campo and in poorer homes. Families who can afford corn flakes are also the sort of people who send their children to private schools. Having said that, I have still to meet a middle class or even an upper class Dominican who looks down on mangú.

That is one of the things I love about the country: despite sayings like ‘el platano embrutece’ Dominicans are still fiercely proud and appreciative of their traditional cuisine, and are not about to replace it completely with foreign substitutes.

What is Mangú?

Mangú (Mashed plantains) is one of the best-known and most representative dishes of Dominican cookery. It could probably be called Dominicans’ Official Breakfast Dish, a must-try for those sampling our cuisine. Learn how to make mangú with this simple step by step recipe.

Aunt Ilana

Mangú (Mashed plantains)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This Mangú (Mashed plantains) recipe is one of the best known and most representative of the Dominican cuisine. It could probably be called Dominicans' official breakfast dish. A must-try for those sampling our cuisine. Learn how to make it with this simple step by step recipe.
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
To make mangu
  • 4 unripe plantains
  • 1½ teaspoons of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder (optional, see notes)
  • 1 cup of water at room temperature
To make onion garnish
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 tablespoon of fruit vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Instructions
How to make mangu
  1. Peel the plantains and cut lenthwise, then divide each half into two. Remove the center where the seeds are located (optional, this is jut my preference for a smoother mangú).
  2. Boil the plantains in enough water to cover them plus an inch until they are very tender, having added the salt to the water before the water breaks the boil.
  3. Remove the plantains from the water and mash them with a fork until they are very smooth and there are few to no lumps. Mix in olive oil, onion powder and water at cool temperature and keep mashing and mixing until it turns into a smooth puree.
How to make the onions
  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in skillet over low heat. Add onions and cook and stir until they become transparent. Pour in vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  2. Garnish mangú with onions and serve with sunny side-up eggs or Dominican scrambled eggs, Dominican fried cheese or fried slices of salami.

Notes
I vastly prefer olive oil in my mangú, but this is a matter of preference, so feel free to go with what you like most.

No, the traditional recipe does not contain onion powder, this is my touch, and trust me, this will amp the flavor in your mangú like you don't believe it. Feel free to leave it out if you wish.

Comments

  1. Stephanie

    Thank you for this recipe! I just returned from a trip to rural DR, where we had mangu for breakfast frequently. It was delicious, especially with the vinegar-y onions. I am looking forward to making this soon!

  2. Luke Altmannsberger

    Military brat and also a proud member of the US Army. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of cultural foods from all over the world. I was introduced to mangu with eggs and fried salami in the past few years and it is one of my favorite breakfasts but unfortunately is hard to find in New England outside of a few high Hispanic areas. I hope mangu as well as other Dominican cuisine catches on in America in the near future in the same way that many other cultural foods have.

  3. David Joiner

    If you have never had Mangu for breakfast, you are missing one of the greatest dishes ever created! I modify mine a bit if I have the ingredients:
    I add julienne green and red bell peppers to the onion (I prefer red onion) and sometimes a tomato diced (add the tomato at the end just before you add the vinegar so it doesn’t get mushy). I sautee the peppers and onion until translucent, but turn up the heat a bit at the end to brown a little, then add red wine vinegar and let it reduce.
    For the Mangu, I’ve tried different textures, really mashed up and creamy to a bit chunky and more starchy. Not sure my preference, seems to depend on the day I make it. Make sure the plantains are green! If they are starting to turn yellow it will make for a sweet Mangu which just doesn’t work at all. (Let’em go and turn black and make platanos dulces.)
    The eggs really need to be sunny-side up or over easy as the creamy yolk mixing with the Mangu is heaven!
    I omit the cheese and salami (makes this a much healthier meal).
    Once plated I add ground black pepper and hot sauce. Choose your favorite, but mine is Red Amazon.
    To all the Dominicanos out there, hope this isn’t too heretical!
    PS I also prefer olive oil over butter.

  4. Piquu

    Mangu is much much better with butter. When you use olive oil it over powers the dish butter adds to its flavor and yummy factor.

  5. Liz

    Gigantic gracías to you for this recipe! I often buy mangu for breakfast from the Dominican restaurant near my job, but I love it so much, I wanted to be able to make it for myself. So glad I came across this recipe. It’s really quite easy to make. Do you recommend a particular brand of salami?

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