I’m sure that somebody, somewhere, has probably come up with a similar dish and a similar recipe, but how these Plantain and Onion Fritters first came to me is quite a winding road.
You may not know it, but my professional life started over two decades ago as a newly-minted Industrial Designer. It was quite an adventure, and an introduction to what would eventually turn into a beloved hobby, and later a profession: photography. How this ties to this dish, and my account of our Berlin summer sojourn is a story in itself.
Berlin has been on my “to visit” list ever since my university days, for more than one reason.
If you grew up in the 1980s, you probably know reason no. 1. I don’t know about you, but I remember exactly where I was when I found out about the fall of the Berlin wall, a transformational moment for people of my generation. It signaled a realignment or world politics, and we thought — or at least hoped — the beginning of a new time of peace, without the constant threat of nuclear annihilation that had thus far haunted us. Berlin was a symbol.
The other reason harkens back to my days as an Industrial Designer: Berlin was the birthplace of our profession, so to speak. For the first time a group of artisans, architects and artists came up with the idea of making “modern”, mass-produced products functional, human, beautiful. If you know nothing about what an Industrial Designer does, just look at your car, your electronic gadgets, your mass-produced furniture. An Industrial Designer — or several — was partly responsible — and/or to blame — for the way it looks, works, the way you interact with it.
Going to Berlin, touching the wall, stepping into the Bauhaus Museum, walking a city that is filled to the brim with history and tragedy, it was a sort of pilgrimage for me. And I fell in love with that city. I shall return some day.
But back to this dish, and what does it have to do with Berlin? Allow me to introduce you to Kartoffelpuffer (also known as Reibekuchen and Kartoffelpfannkuchen), a classic German dish which I tried atop the iconic TV Tower in Berlin. It reminded me of Latkes, and I am sure somebody smarter already knows if there is a connection, but I loved these amazing fritters.
And then I wondered… Could I make them with plantains instead of potatoes?
I tried, I experimented, gained a couple of pounds out of all that experimenting, and here we are. It did work. While clearly not tasting exactly like the potato version (as you would expect), the crispy, “oniony” fritters were pretty amazing. I am sure you’ll love them too.
- 2 unripe plantains
- 1 large [7.08 gr] red onion
- 1 medium egg
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of chopped chives
- 2 cup of oil for frying (corn, peanut or soy)
- Making the mixture: Grate plantains and onions with the coarse side of the grater. Mix in egg, salt, and chives.
- Fry fritters: Heat the oil over medium-high heat 350 °F [177 °C]. Scoop two tablespoons of the plantain mixture into the oil, fry 3 or 4 at a time so the oil doesn't get too cool. Once golden brown on one side, flip and fry until golden brown all over. Rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve warm.