Plantain Recipes and Easy Guide to the Amazing Plátano
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New to Plantains? Start here:
What are plantains?
Plantains are the fruit of the plantain plant, and – along with bananas – are members of the genus Musa. In appearance, plantains look like larger bananas. Plantains are eaten ripe and unripe.
The taste of plantain is hard to describe, but the closest to the taste of unripe plantain is unripe banana, which – if you've never tried plantains – you’re probably also unfamiliar with. Ripe plantain tastes like a much starchier banana.
The difference between ripe and unripe plantain shows in their color, flavor, and texture: Unripe plantains are green and very firm, whereas ripe plantains are yellow – with black spots as it gets riper –and also mushier and sweeter. Neither should be eaten raw (though eating raw ripe plantain is not harmful, just not tasty).
You’ll know a plantain is ripe when the skin is completely yellow, and it has softer flesh
Picture of plantains
Names for plantain
Plantains are eaten ripe and unripe. Unripe (or green) plantains are known in Spanish as "plátano verde", and in some places "plátano macho".
"Plátanos maduros" "plátano dulce" and "plátanos amarillos" are the most common names for ripe plantains in Spanish.
Benefits of plantains
Plantains are very low in fat and sodium, are cholesterol-free, and are a very rich source of fiber. One-half cup of cooked slices contains about 89 calories.
Plantains are an excellent source of vitamin C and A, having 20 times the vitamin A, three times the vitamin C, twice the magnesium, and almost two times the potassium in a banana.
Plantains are also very rich in carbohydrates, and as such are not recommended for the keto or low carb diet. However, we have a recipe for a keto “mangú”, if you miss it. Read the post carefully to understand how it works.
Where are plantains from?
Plantains and bananas come from Southeast Asia and flourish in tropical areas. Alexander the Great is credited with bringing plantains westward from India to Greece. From there it spread to the Middle East and East Africa thanks to Arab sailors.
Portuguese conquistadors brought it to the new world, where – thanks to enslaved Africans who were familiar with this fruit – plantains became popular mostly in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
How to cook plantains
Plantains are versatile and can be cooked in many ways, but most commonly they are boiled, fried, roasted, or added to stews. Sweet plantains (ripe) can even be made into a dessert we call mala rabia.
The leaves are used in our cuisine to wrap pasteles en hoja and panecicos.
- How to peel plantains
Peeling an unripe plantain is entirely different from peeling a banana – or a ripe plantain, for that matter. The peel is scored and removed in sections. Lucky for you, we’ve written an entire guide on how to peel and slice plantains, complete with a handy video
- How to boil plantains
One of the most common ways to eat plantains is boiled. Plantains are peeled and boiled in salted water. You can follow along with our mangú (plantain mash with sauteed onions) recipe for the world's best plantain recipe. I may be a bit biased.
- How to fry plantains
In its most basic form, plantains are peeled, and deep-fried, but different recipes will call for different sized pieces, and frying time. Check our recipe for tostones (the world's best side dish or snack), or mofongo (fried plantains with a garlic flavor), for just two examples of what can be made with fried plantains.
- How to roast plantains
Traditionally, plantains were roasted under a bed of hot ashes, which cooked it over very low heat for a long time. Not having hot ashes at hand, we have can cook them in the oven, as is the case in our recipe for traditional Dominican mofongo, and ripe baked plantains.