Fried Plantains—one of my favorite comfort foods! Whenever I eat these, my mind is flooded with memories of my childhood. I feel like plantains were a staple growing up in Congo and Cameroon both.
The way we used to make these in Congo (a.k.a. the best way ?), is to use really ripe plantains (called Makembas, in Lingala). I’ve lived in other places where the plantains are not as ripe for this fried method, and they turned out to be very dry and starchy and leave much to be desired. When you use the overripe ones, your end result is the softest, sweetest, most delicious fried goodness.
Don’t get me wrong! Green plantains definitely serve a purpose in some dishes—this just isn’t one of them. I’ll be sharing another delicious treat that uses green plantains next month, so stay tuned!
Now, back to the good stuff—when I say overripe plantains, I mean overripe! You want the skins to be mostly black. It sounds gross, but trust me, it really improves the final product!
I struggle to find overripe plantains in the stores here, so I usually have to plan ahead and buy them green. Then I put them in my pantry for 3-4 weeks to let them ripen up. If you have to do it this way too, just be sure to check on them about once a week so you don’t forget about them (I’ve definitely done that before…)
One final note: please be careful when working with and around the hot oil! Oil burns are no fun!
I hope you love how sweet and juicy these melt-in-your-mouth treats are! I’ve won my husband over ? Cheers!
Fried Plantains: The Sweet and Salty Kind
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- 4 overripe, mostly black Plantains
- ½ – ¾ cup Vegetable Oil (depending on the size of your frying pan)
- Coarsely ground Salt
- Paper Towels
In a medium frying pan (I like to use cast iron for this project!), pour in enough oil that you have about a ¼ – ½ inch in the bottom of the pan.
Place the pan over medium heat and let the oil heat up to around 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
**Note: If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil’s temp by taking a small piece of cut plantain and putting it in the hot oil. If it immediately starts to bubble and dance around the plantain, then it’s ready! You don’t want it so hot that it’s burning and smoking either.**
While the oil is heating up, peel the plantains.
Next, we cut them into your desired size and shape. I prefer to cut them in half, and then slice them into quarters lengthwise.
Very carefully place the slices of plantain in the hot oil. Please don’t burn yourself! You will probably have to fry these in a couple of batches, depending on the size of your pan. Don’t overcrowd the slices. They can gently touch, but you don’t want any stacked on top of each other.
Fry them for about 3 minutes on the first side. The edges should start to turn a light, golden brown color. Using tongs or a fork, carefully flip the plantains over, and fry them for another 3 minutes or so on the second side. The goal is to get them to a beautiful dark, golden brown color.
**Note: Because of the high sugar content in these, they will go from dark brown to black very quickly, so keep an eye on them so as not to burn them!**
Once they have reached their desired color, place them on a couple layers of paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
Lightly sprinkle them with coarsely ground salt (I love to use this pink Himalayan rock salt in my spice grinder!).