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Plantains are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. The edible fruit of the plantain bananas is not eaten raw and has more starch than the common banana familiar to most Americans.
Believe it or not but bananas and plantains are a gigantic herb. The banana plant, often called a banana tree, is technically regarded as an herbaceous plant, not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue.
While bananas and plantains are very similar, they are also quite different.
Good luck in trying to peel a green plantain with your fingers. Following is a brief explanation on how to peel a green plantain.
Bring the plantain to room temperature. Hold the plantain firmly, using the tip of the knife, slit the plantain along the length of the plantain. Only cut as deep as the peel itself.
For the easiest peeling, make a cut in the middle around the circumference. If you do not need the plantain to be whole, you can simply cut it in half.
Slide the knife just under the edge of the peel, without cutting into the flesh, to help loosen it.
Remove the plantain peel, peeling it to the side rather than lengthwise.
Black bananas are considered rotten and usually thrown away. Plantains that have turned black is a sign they are ripe and ready to use.
Frying plantains is the most popular way to serve them. Simply fill a heavy bottomed pan with enough oil to cover the plantain. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry until crispy and place on a cooling rack.
While the plantains are hot, you will want to season them. The hot surface will act as a glue and absorb the seasoning better than if the surface is allowed to come to room temperature.
Plantains are versatile and are a nice surprise when having company. Consider plantain chips as opposed to potato chips with a mojo dipping sauce. Mojo consists of garlic, fresh parsley, olive oil and lime juice.
How about a plantain fritter or fries? The starchiness of the plantains holds up well under the process of frying. A crispy exterior with a soft, creamy filling is always a hit.
When entertaining, think out of the box. Instead of serving the plantains on a plate with a bowl of dipping sauce, purchase small, glass martini glasses.
Place the dipping sauce in the bottom of the glass and position the fried plantains upward. This makes for a fun, unique presentation.
Fried plantain martinis can be passed around as an hors d’oeuvre. Each guest has their own order, and it is finger friendly.
The Dollar Store is a great option for purchasing martini glasses. The inexpensive glasses are more durable and can be placed in a dishwasher for fast cleanups.
Espresso cups are another great way to show off your fried plantains and dip. The cups have a handle which facilitates consumption, they are small which helps one’s budget, and can be set up in advance for buffets.
The Eastern Shore is going to be packed this summer, which means you will be having lots of company.
Plantain chips accompanied with a sweet and spicy orange marmalade dipping sauce is a refreshing appetizer or side. The orange marmalade is a perfect pairing with the tropical plantains.
One element of surprise is key to entertaining. Fried plantain chips with an orange marmalade dipping sauce are a delicious way to start your festivities. Enjoy!
Orange Marmalade Dipping Sauce
½ cup orange marmalade
¼ cup duck sauce
1/3 cup red pepper jelly
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 splash of rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon lime zest
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
a pinch of kosher salt
1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until everything is thoroughly blended.
2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Remove dipping sauce from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature (30 minutes) before serving.
Fried Plantain Chips
2 ripe plantains
canola oil for frying
sprinkling of kosher salt
1. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the plantains into very thin slices, about 1/8-inch thickness.
2. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy bottomed pot to cover the chips. Heat oil to 350 degrees.
3. Fry the plantain chips in batches until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir them while they are cooking to prevent them from sticking together.
4. Place plantains on a cooling rack underlined with paper towels. Sprinkle a touch of kosher salt and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar.
5. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
Secret Ingredient – Fusion. “The richness of an artist is the fusion of influences that have shaped his life and work.”
– Fernando Botero