Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Plantain Chips

Aside from my new obsession with spaghetti squash, I've also renewed my love for plantain chips.  In Peru, you could buy bags of thinly sliced plantain chips for one sol (about a third of a dollar), and fried plantains are a common ingredient in all jungle food.  My first experience with jungle food was in the market in the jungle my second week in the country.  We went nearly every morning for breakfast and coffee (amazing coffee!)  At first, the only thing I would try were the bananas with either fresh cheese or mani (natural peanut butter), they seemed the safest and least likely to make me sick (I'd heard horror stories about parasites and was pretty nervous upon arrival), and so when the others told me to try a Peruvian dish called tacacho I swore I never would.  Tacacho is fried plantains that have been ground with pig fat and bacon and served with lime soaked purple onions, ahi (a super spicy and delicious spice), and mayonnaise (sounds odd, but Peru knows how to do mayo like nobody else).
It took some convincing, but eventually I caved.  The dish is delicious, if not a little odd, and I was so glad my friends made me do it.  In the future, I plan to try this recipe from the Peruvian cook book I brought back, but this week I kept it simple with plantain chips.

These are fairly easy to cook and the hardest part is actually getting them out of their skins.  My suggestion is to get them somewhat yellow, too green and they'll basically require you to skin them with a knife.  Either way, plantains are much harder than regular bananas and you will need a knife to get them open.  Cut off the ends and then use the tip of the knife to make slits on each side of the fruit…vegetable…eh, it's up for debate.  Once this is done, you should be able to peal it with some amount of ease.  Cut into fairly thin slices depending on how crispy you want them.  The thicker they are, the softer they tend to be.  However, you don't want them too thin, otherwise they will burn.  

Heat your oil in your pan on medium high or so (I used olive oil) and carefully place the chips in until they are mostly submerged.  I don't have a specific time frame for how long, just keep an eye on them and flip with a fork.  I found using a spatula did not work so well.  Drain on paper towels and season with salt.  Then, enjoy!  Just be careful, it's easy to get burned and easier still to become somewhat obsessed.  Do you have any international dishes that you could make yourself sick on?

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