I miss plantains. For those who don’t know, it is the larger cousin of the banana. Unlike the banana it is typically cooked before eaten. I suppose one could just peel and eat it like you would a banana, but that would just be… well, wrong. My favorite way to enjoy a plantain is to fry it and simply eat as a side dish. Unfortunately, along with my strong accent, one of the things I lost in moving to San Diego is the ready availability of plantains.
Two weeks ago, I had a meeting in a neighborhood in San Diego known for it’s “ethnic’ population. Ehem… let me pause here to continue my fight against the application of this terminology. Why is this term reserved for non-Caucasians alone? Are they by some miracle of biology without shared cultural heritage that underpins the term ‘ethnicity’? But I digress, linguistic misapplication aside, I was lucky to be in an area of town with a fair share of Vietnamese and Filipino supermarkets.
As I drove through I remembered a plantain dish I once had in a Filipino restaurant many years ago. “Dare I hope?”, I wondered. I was not disappointed, I came out of the supermarket with a huge green plaintain. It took about one week to ripen, and the cooked fruit was a key ingredient in Anders’ breakfast last week Saturday.
(The other half found its way in a plantain flambé – my take on the banana flambe, something I am unable to make because of my one-woman boycott of the US commercial banana industry).
- 1/2 of a ripe plantain
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 slice bread
- 1 oz blue cheese
- a few sprigs cilantro
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
The most important ingredient in this sandwhich is patience. You must wait long enough for the plaintain to achieve maximum ripeness without going bad. When you see the first black discoloraiton appearing on the plantain, you might be tempted to throw it out but DO NOT do that. In fact, wait a day or so more until the entire plantain feels like an overripe banana. Now you’re ready.
Heat oil on medium high in large frying pan. While the oil is heating, cut the plantain in 1/2 crosswise. Peel and slice diagonally into slices about 1/4 inch thick. From our big plantain I was able to get 4 slices. Carefully place the plaintain in the hot oil and fry until the plantain gets that nice brownish caramelization you see in the pictures below. Turn and do the same on the ohter side. Remove and drain on a paper towel. (You want to get rid of some of that oil). Do not leave it on the paper towel as it will start to stick after a minute or so.
Place the roasted garlic in a small bowl. Finely chop the cilantro and add to the garlic. Crush the garlic and ciliantro to make a paste. Spread the paste over the bread and add the blue cheese. Place in a toaster oven until the cheese has melted and then add the ripe plantains. That’s it. The slightly spicy flavor of the cilantro and the sharpness of the blue cheese acts as a nice counterpoint to the sweet plantain. It was so good Anders was happy to have this instead of cereal for his breakfast. And this man is a cereal fiend!