In many parts of the country, people see these in the produce section and haven't a clue what to do with them. They are plantains, in the Musa genus, and generally used for cooking, unlike the common banana (sometimes called a dessert banana) we see in our stores.
Plantains are a staple in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavor and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying. Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas. Bananas are most often eaten raw, while plantains usually require cooking or other processing, and are used either when green or under-ripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet).
Only the one on the right in the photo above is for this recipe. Actually it's about a day or two too ripe; a bit greener is better. The greener the plantain, the better for this dish. As they start to yellow (and eventually brown) they get sweeter. I love them, and can have them occasionally on my food protocol because they are lower in sugars than regular bananas, and high in nutrients. (They are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium.)
Trim off ends of plantain. Make a shallow slit down the length and peel. Cut into 1 inch pieces, and place in a bowl of salted water for a few minutes.
Remove from salted water and drain while heating about 1/2” of oil in a skillet on medium heat until a drop of water thrown on it pops. Add the cut plantains, standing on a cut end not sideways.
After a minute or so and the bottoms are golden, turn plantains over.
When the second side has reached a golden color, remove and drain on a paper towel. Take a jar, wine bottle, coke bottle or anything with a flat bottom and carefully smash the plantains.
Return to hot oil (now on high heat) and brown on each side. If oil is not hot enough, plantains will absorb oil and be greasy.
Remove from pan onto paper towels to drain and immediately add salt.
May be kept warm in a 200ºF oven until ready to serve. YUM!
These will be starchy like a fried potato. If the plantain has started to yellow, they will have a hint of sweetness. When fully ripe with blackened outside skin (and when you might think they are spoiled), cooked plantains will taste like candy (Platanos Maduros, tutorial coming soon).
Plantains are a good source of Vitamins A, B6, C and Potassium. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is excellent, 1.75:1. Unfortunately the packaged fried plantain chops have a ratio of 101: 1, which is terrible and I assume is from the hydrogenated oil used for frying.
Tip: Place plantains in a brown paper bag in a cupboard to ripen evenly.