Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fried Plantain Tostones with Guacamole

A popular Latin American dish, Tostones are plantains which are pan-fried and then crushed using a 'tostonera,' a special wooden press used to flatten the discs for a second round of frying, which makes them extra crispy. Nutritious and low in fat, green plantains are found in almost every Latin American and Caribbean kitchen, and their versatility is simply delicious. The thin, golden yellow disks are fabulous sprinkled with coarse salt and served with fresh guacamole, or any kind of flavourful topping such as queso fresco, olive tapenade or crème fraîche.

A traditional tostonera

The first time I enjoyed Tostones with Guacamole was at Origin in Toronto. They were made from sliced green unripe plantains which were cut width-wise into 1-inch coins and fried for one to two minutes on each side until golden brown, then removed and patted dry on paper towel for excess oil. Afterwards, they were pounded flat with a 'tostonera' — or any kitchen utensil that has a large enough flat surface — then fried once again until they're crisp and golden. A popular street food in Latin America, tostones make an easy and delicious festive appetizer for any summer party or even during the holiday season.

Fried Tostones with Guacamole
Makes about 16 tostones

For the Guacamole:
2 limes, zest and juice - I use a microplane to zest the limes
4 ripe Haas avocados

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/2 small red onion, minced

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp canned jalapeño peppers, drained and minced

1/4 tsp salt

A few grinds white or black pepper

For the Tostones:
2 green unripe plantains
canola or vegetable oil for frying
Maldon or Kosher salt to taste

For the guacamole, zest and juice the limes into a medium bowl. Slice the avocados in half, skin, pit and then dice the avocados. As you dice each avocado, add it to the bowl and toss to coat with lime juice so they don’t brown. Add the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeño, salt and pepper and stir to combine well. Don’t be tempted to mash the avocados. Leave fairly chunky. This makes about 4 cups. Cover and set aside until the tostones are ready.

With a small sharp knife cut the ends from each plantain and cut a lengthwise slit through the skin along the inside curve. Beginning in the center of the slit, pry the skin from the plantain and cut the flesh crosswise into 1 to 2-inch thick pieces. Heat about 1-inch of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the plantain slices to the hot oil and fry, turning frequently, until they're pale gold on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to paper towels to drain briefly, and repeat with the remaining slices.

Working quickly, using a tostonera, tortilla press or the flat bottom of a plate or glass, flatten each piece between sheets of wax paper to about 1/3-inch thick. Refry the flattened pieces in the oil, turning them occasionally until they're golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels to drain, and season liberally with salt. The tostones should be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Fry the remaining plantain pieces in batches in the same manner. 

Tostones are best served immediately, but they may be made 1 day in advance, wrapped well in plastic bags, and reheated in a shallow baking pan in a preheated 450°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they're heated through. Serve the tostones on a large platter with a bowl of guacamole in the middle and let guests help themselves.

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