Sunday, March 27, 2011


Finally, my first foray into Puerto Rican cooking!! It took long enough, seeing how much I loved Puerto Rican food when I visited in January... of 2010.

And I know I promised a cookie recipe, but packing for the cross country move in 7 days has been more insane than I anticipated, so I still haven't had a chance to troubleshoot my cookie experiment. Once I'm back in Chicago and a little more settled, I hope to make that one of my first baking projects.

But even though I haven't been cooking recently, that doesn't mean I don't have tons of recipes/tips to share. I did lots of cooking a few weeks ago when I visited my friends in Napa and Fresno so that should be enough to hold me over for a while.

Todays recipe is for tostones, or savory fried plantains.

You may gain 5 lb just by looking at this photo...

I made these with my best friend Sommer and her Puerto Rican husband Ernesto. A classmate from Stanford joined me on the 3-hour trek to Fresno, where the four of us spent the weekend doing the following things (in no particular order):

1. cooking
2. eating
3. visiting Yosemite
4. watching an inappropriately large amount of Jersey Shore. (With 2 PhDs and 2 MDs the four of us had over 20 years of higher education in that room. And yet, we all somehow share a love of trashy tv shows.)
5. drinking delicious wine
6. laughing
7. taking photos of Chico

 #3. Beautiful waterfalls at Yosemite

#6. Sommer and I being our typical goofy selves with a giant treestump at Yosemite. 

#7. Chico in a hat!

But the #1 thing we did was cook. In two shorts days we made bistec encebollado and tostones and caesar salad dressing and bread pudding french toast and blood orange galette. It was a busy weekend!

So you ready to learn how to make tostones, the traditional way?

1. Find green plantains. The green ones are savory kind; if they're yellow or brown on the outside you can use those to make a fried sweet plaintain called maduros. But the green ones are necessary for making the salty and savory tostones!

2. Although plantains are related to bananas, they have some pretty big differences. (a) You have to cook plantains, whether ripe or not. (b) You can't peel plantains like a banana. You have to lop off the ends and carefully slice the peel to remove it. Go to this awesome blog for step-by-step photos if plantain slicing is new to you.

After cutting off the plantain tops, either discard, or use them to 
create giant nipples on your husband. Your choice.

3. Cut the plantains ~1" thick (on a bias) and soak in water flavored with salt and whole garlic cloves for ~10 minutes.
Note: You don't see this step in a lot of recipes, but I've been told by Ernesto 
it improves the texture of the final product. I'll take his word for it.

4. Fry the plantains until barely lightly golden. If your oil isn't deep enough, flip the tostones to cook both sides.
Frying step #1. Yes, there's a step #2 to come...

5. Carefully remove the pieces and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

6. Smash the bejesus out of the slices.

Puerto Rican's have a dedicated tool to this process (a tostonera). If you don't have one, just use the bottom of a can or plate or pot to flatten them. But a tostonera makes them nice and flat! Watch...

Single plantain slice, ready to go. 

Lid closed, ready to be smushed. 

Action shot! 

Viola! Giant flattened tostone.

7. Some recipes I read suggest dipping the flattened tostones in salted water right before frying them again to make them nice and crispy. We didn't do that, but feel free to try it to see if you notice a difference.

8. Fry 'em, again!

And there you have it, golden, crispy, starchy, fatty, salty deliciousness.

Buen Provecho,

Tostones, from Ernesto's familia.


green plantains
6+ cloves garlic (optional)
oil, for frying


1. Peel plantains (use this site for help) and cut slices on a bias 1" to 1 1/2" thick.

2. Soak plantains in a solution of salt water and a bunch of whole (slighly crushed) garlic cloves, for approximately 10 minutes.

3. While plantains are soaking, heat oil to medium (one recipe I read said 350˚F if you want an actual temperature). Fry plantains for 3-5 minutes, until barely lightly golden brown. (Flip the pieces halfway through cooking if your oil is not deep enough).

4. Remove plantains to a plate lined with paper towels. Flatten pieces using either a tostonera or a can, plate, pot, etc. (This blog suggests using a clean paper bag to prevent the plantain from sticking too your surface.)

5. Quickly dip the flattened plantains in salted water (optional). Return to frying pan and cook until desired golden brownness, I'm guessing at least 1 minute per side.

6. Remove tostones to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (or other seasonings) and serve plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.


Mara said...

me encantan los tostones! Buena suerte con tu viaje grande :) (hope you remember your Spanish!)

Jacqueline said...

Gracias Mara! Si, recuerdo un poquito.

Stacey said...

hahahahaha! Love that pic of Sommer and Ernesto. :)

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