Tag Archives: tostones

Tostones de Panapén (Fried Breadfruit Disks)

16 Jul

When they talk about flakes of manna falling from the sky, I am sure they are talking about tostones de panapén.

Chunks browned lightly

Chunks browned lightly

Panapén or pana is what Puerto Ricans call breadfruit. The back story of how breadfruit got to the West Indies from South East Asia is actually one of the most famous seafaring tales around: The Mutiny on the Bounty.

The LeBron Brothers are the guys in the Plaza de Mercado de Mayagüez (where my great-grandfather had a booth in the early 1900s) who supply me with the good stuff, already peeled and pared!

The LeBron Brothers are the guys in the Plaza de Mercado de Mayagüez (where my great-grandfather brought his produce and my great-uncle had a booth in the early 1900s) who supply me with the good stuff, already peeled and pared!

Captain Bligh, on that ill-fated trip was trying to bring breadfruit to plant in the  Caribbean for cheap slave food.

Wikipedia image

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Mayo-Ketchup Gets a Much-Needed Makeover (with Chipotle!)

4 Mar

“We totally just licked the bowl!”

I had promised my friend Ashley and my son a “tostones-for-dinner” Friday night and, since I had the plaintains I was ready to go. Ashley had decided to learn to make them, so I set her up with the assembly line of garlic and salt water, hot oil, plates covered in paper towel and tostonera (See Tostones! for the how-to of this Caribbean riff on French fries) and got ready to relax with a bit of the fizzy stuff.

Then I mentioned that Puerto Ricans usually dip tostones in mayo-ketchup – mayonnaise and ketchup stirred together. Without hesitation Ashley said “That sounds like it would be great with chipotle and lime,” and since I had it all in (plus garlic) a new creamy, spicy, lick-the-bowl delicious dip was born. And it was so quick that I still got to drink that glass of fizzy in relative peace….

You. Are. Gonna. Love. This.


(play around with the proportions to suit your taste)

1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise

1 Tbs plain yogurt (nonfat or lowfat are fine)

1 Tbs ketchup

1 tsp chipotle in adobo (minced)

1 tsp lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced fine

Pinch salt, if desired

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve with tostones or other fried, crispy tidbits.

Tostones: Puerto Rican French Fries – Made of Plantains!

8 Dec
If you have ever eyed those oversized, overthick, green banana-looking things in the supermarket and wondered what people do with them, this is your great revelatory moment.

Pre-soaking in salted, garlicky water

Those things are plantains – Musa paradisiaca – a kind of banana we in the Caribbean use to make all manner of delicious, stodgy things, preferably plunged into hot fat and heavily salted. Plantains originated in SouthEast Asia or the Near East or thereabouts and came over with colonialism. They flourish in the tropics and are now integral to the Caribbean culinary canon.

Fry and smash

Tostones – called patacones in other parts of Latin America – are disks that – much like French fries – are sliced and fried twice -once to cook through and the second time to crisp. As the holidays approach and I feel more and more festive, I am saying “Calories be damned, I need some of those!” So I’ve been making tostones for dinner. Yes, the whole meal. And we are all loving it.

Assembly line: note beautiful Pipo Grajales-made tostonera in background

My son dips them in ketchup, my favorite Dominican restaurant serves them with a garlic mojo sauce, and Puerto Ricans like them dipped in mayo-ketchup, a quick stir of mayonnaise and ketchup (that Kraft actually markets on the island!). These days I just sprinkle salt on them; some folk like garlic salt or powdered garlic. Years ago my friend, Chef Patricia Wilson pioneered serving them topped with sour cream and caviar at noted Old San Juan restaurant Amadeus…with a flute of dry sparkling they dress up real nice. You can dip them in hot soup too…mmmmm.

So give tostones a try; the first soak in water is critical; the second one less so, but it doesn’t really add much time to the procedure and it does add flavor and texture, so why not?

 Tostones (Fried green plantains, serves four as a meal, 6-8 as a side)

(Note: you will need two boards or two plates to smush the disks between rounds in the frying pan)

5 green plantains*

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

4 Cups water

2 tsp salt

¾ – 1 Cup vegetable oil (for frying, enough oil to be about ½ inch deep in your chosen frying pot or pan)

Preparing the plantains:  Slice both tips off. With a knife, make lengthwise slits through the peel on two sides. Try not to pierce the flesh too much. Peel the thick skin off.

Stir garlic, water and salt in a bowl. Slice the plantains into ½ inch chunks, on the bias, and place slices in bowl of salted water. Soak for 15 minutes to one hour. Drain on paper towel.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or pan.  When the oil is shimmering, add as many plantain slices as will fit comfortably. Fry until golden (really golden – not just beige) turning with tongs.

This is where you begin to make an assembly line. Be ready with a couple of plates covered in paper towels for absorbing oil.

Remove and lay the first set on paper towels and place the next round in the hot oil. While the second set is frying, take the first set (the one you’ve already fried) and squash fairly flat in a tostonera, if you’ve got, or between two plates. Dip in the salted water and lay back on the paper towels. You may have another raw set to go (it depends on the size of your fry pot).  Follow the same pattern until all plantain disks are pre-fried until golden, squashed flat, and dipped. Then start returning plantain disks for the final fry to crisp them up. Remove when beginning to brown and lay on clean paper towels until cool enough to eat.

*Look for firm, green, thick skins. As they yellow, they become sweeter and have other uses…

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