There are days when getting out of bed does not seem like the best use of our time. Wednesday was one of such days. We inaugurated the day with a raging tropical rain and strong winds. It didn’t take long until one of the shades in our terrace was ripped off its tracks. Things could only get worse from there.
Those are the days when a Aguají (Rustic Dominican Plantain Soup) is a gift from heaven.
Our old vehicle refused to start and had to be picked up by the mechanic (let’s take a moment to marvel at the awesomeness that is this level of service). It turns out that the car not starting (battery problems) was the best thing that could happen to us. The mechanic found that, besides the faulty battery connection, there was a leak in a valve and our car was nearly out of oil. Ah, the gods of unlucky days were having a good time prodding me.
I decided early on that I was going to breathe deeply and try not to get such things ruin my day. Or in the words of the sage Frank Costanza: Serenity now!
I swear that if I had any inclination for such things I would have just poured myself a drink and kill a few neurones, but, alas! If learned anything from my ill-spent youth is that I am not really into alcohol, and coffee has left few neurones alive anyway. And speaking of ill-spent youth…
I have to thank my friend Aida, who introduced me to this dish back in our university days. Even though I had heard the name, I was not acquainted with the dish. This is apparently a fairly good cure for a case of the hangovers. I can’t tell you if that is true, what I know is that in a rainy day, when all seems to start on the wrong foot, this soup really helps improve the mood.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of aguají (rustic plantain broth), it packs a punch in the form of strong flavors. And whether as a cure to a hangover, or a case of the blues, give it a try, it will make your day a bit better.
- 3 green plantains
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (corn, peanut or soy)
- 2 1/2 qt [2.5 lt] of water , divided
- 6 cloves of garlic , crushed
- 1 stalk of leek , cut into slices
- 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
- 4 culantro/recao/cilantro ancho leaves
- 6 all-spice berries
- A pinch of oregano
- A pinch of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Peel the plantains and brush with the oil.
Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 480 ºF (250 ºC) for 35 mins.
Unwrap the plantains and crush with a mortar and pestle.
Boil 2 qt [2 lt] of water adding the garlic, leek, cilantro, culantro, all-spice berries, a pinch of oregano and a pinch of pepper to it.
Boil over medium heat for 15 minutes, adding water when necessary to maintain the same level of liquid.
Add the plantains and boil for another 10 minutes. Add water when necessary to maintain the same level of liquid.
Season with salt to taste. Serve hot.