The Power of The Platano

A cheap, delicious, and versatile Dominican staple

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What Does Platano Power Mean?

Just as Popeye loves his spinach, Dominicans love their platanos. If you are at all familiar with Dominican culture or are even just a baseball fan, you have undoubtedly heard the words “Platano Power.” That’s because the cheap, tasty, and filling plantain is a year-round staple of the Dominican diet. It has been that way since basically forever, and according to Dominicans themselves, platanos are what give Dominicans their strength.

What is a Plantain?

Known in English as plantains, this close relative looks very similar to a banana but is different. Unlike bananas, whether they are ripened or unripened, plantains are almost always cooked. More often than not, the fruit is used more like a vegetable in Dominican recipes. Unripe green plantains have a flavor similar to a potato and served boiled and mashed or sliced and fried. The ripe, yellow version has a taste similar to that of a banana and is usually fried up in a frying pan.

Plantains on a motorcycleIn this article, we’ll describe some tasty ideas for you to try in our kitchens and a little more on the power of the platano.

Health Benefits of Plantain

  • Nutritious – Similar to potatoes, plantains are rich sources of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Assists Digestion – Fiber plays an incredibly important role in the digestive system and can reduce the risk of haemorrhoids and can manage cholesterol.
  • Heart Health – Plantains are a great source of vitamins that help to reduce homocysteine levels, often associated with stroke and coronary artery disease. In addition, the high amounts of potassium help maintain a healthy heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Boosts Immune System – Plantains are packed with Vitamin C which help to boost your immune system.

Tasty Plantain Recipe Ideas

Plantains are a great addition to any meal and make for a tasty way to switch it up from potatoes. But how do we eat them? We’ve outlined our favorite simple ways to eat plantains below.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that even though we talked about the health benefits of plantains, the following recipes are not necessarily the healthiest way to prepare the food.

Mangú (Mashed Plantains)

Mangú is a Dominican traditional side dish served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Los Tres Golpes, literally translated as The Three Hits, is a breakfast dish composed of fried egg, fried cheese, mangú with red onion, and salami. This plate isn’t the healthiest way to consume mangú, but you can enjoy it on its own, with vegetables, or with scrambled (rather than friend) egg and onion. The same as mashed potatoes, you boil up the plantains first, empty some of the water (but also leave some of the water), then mash it all up!

Fried Plantain

This preparation is a local lunchtime and dinner favorite. Again, not the healthiest of options but tostones aka twice fried plantains make for a tasty treat every once in a while. These are easy to make as you peel the plantain, fry in oil until golden brown, smash and cool, fry again, and serve. If you are, in fact, looking to make this version a little healthier, bake them in the oven instead of frying them in oil.

Mofongo (Fried Mashed Plantains with Pork Crackling)

Take the tasty trio of garlic, fried plantains, and pork crackling, mashe and mix it all together and voila, Mofongo! This dish originated in Puerto Rico but is so delicious that it has now become a favorite dish in the Dominican Republic.

Caramelized Sweet Plantain

Fried sweet plantains are called maduros. Maduro in Spanish means “ripe.” As a side dish, maduros accompany dishes consisting of things like eggs and ham. But maduros can also be served as a dessert by adding a scoop of ice-cream topped with a butter sauce. They take around 15 minutes to prepare and are easy peasy.

First and foremost, make sure your ripe plantains are extremely ripe. We’re talking black peel and a little mushy when you squeeze. Start by peeling and cutting the plantains into halves and add cinnamon. Next, fry the plantains over medium heat until they’re golden brown and have a little crust on them. Want to ass a little kick? Add a mix of water, rum, sugar, and salt. Once the combination turns into a syrup consistency, serve up and enjoy!

You can find all of the recipes and more detailed on the Dominican cooking website.

Check out some more of our favorite Dominican recipes.

Which is your favorite way to enjoy plantains? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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