tostones - fried green banana

My English isn't exactly perfect so I have a question for you: Isn't the difference between "banana" and "plantain" that "bananas" are more often than not eaten raw and ripe, as a fruit, and "plantains" are essentially eaten cooked in some way (more or less like a tuber) and used green as well as ripe? Oh well, that's the way I will be using the two words here anyway...

In Cuba there are various sorts of both bananas and plantains. "Plátano fruta" (fruit banana) is the regular banana known to us Europeans. (Although I must say that the flavour of the imported bananas is hopelessly poor.) "Plátano manzano" (apple banana) is another kind of banana. It is much smaller than the "plátano fruta" and has a faint hint of acid in the taste, hence the reference to apples. Wonderful!

Among the plantains there is "plátano macho" (male banana!) and "plátano burro" (donkey banana). The former is the one I've seen on sale in Sweden. In Havana it is considered the best plantain to make tostones, fufú (puré) or use in soups and stews etc. "Plátano burro" is much cheaper in Havana but I havn't been able to find it in Sweden. It is considered ideal for "compota", baby-food made of the ripe bananas, it can however be used as an excelent subsitute for "plátano macho".

Today's entry is devoted to tostones. If there exists something like a national side dish this is the one for Cuba! It also happens to be my preferred dish when it comes to plantains! Make a lot since it's hard not to eat the first batch as you prepare the second one...

I made these in Havana using plátano burro.



Trim both ends of the green or semi-ripe plantains. Cut in slices (aprox. 2-3cm) and peel. The easiest way to peel is to make a cut and then use the knife to pull the hard skin off the plantain.

Fry the slices in oil (not olive oil but something with a more neutral taste, like sunflower oil) until they get golden. Put the plantains on a plate but don't remove the frying pan from the stove.

Fold a paper (newspaper or normal paper) and lay one slice of plantain on it at a time. Fold the paper over the slice and press with your hands and mash the slice. Put back in the frying pan. Fry until it gets a nice color.

Put some salt on your tostones and enjoy as a side dish with almost anything: rice and beans, your favorite meat dish or a tasty soup!

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