I’ve never liked plantains, but that’s changed after being introduced to tostones by my friend Elizabeth. Essentially they’re green, unripe, plantains that have been sliced and fried twice, usually served as an appetizer or side dish. Yet another example where frying can make almost anything taste better.
When you buy green plantains, they should be hard. If they start to ripen or get soft, the taste will not be as good. Store them in the refrigerator to forestall ripening.
The first step in making tostones is getting the peel off the plantain, which is easier if the plantain you’re cooking is at room temperature. Slice the ends off, then make a slanted incision along one of the plantain’s ribs and come around the end. Then push the peel up and off the plantain. I usually have to make a few extra cuts to get to the right depth and loosen the peel. Take off a section of peel and repeat until it all has been removed.
Then cut the plantain in diagonal slices about half an inch thick.
In a pan over a medium-high flame, heat up vegetable oil about a centimeter deep or enough to go a little over halfway up the slices when they’re in the oil. Test the oil with one slice to see if it immediately starts to sizzle, and put the rest of the slices in when the oil is hot. Cook for a minute or two on one side and then turn them over. In the photo below, see how the centers are a brighter yellower than the edges? Keep cooking and turning them over until they’re a single pale yellow throughout, but, if you start to see brown flecks, they’re starting to fry and you should remove them.
Place the slices on a sheet of tinfoil and with a flat surface (I used the flat bottom of a small bowl) flatten them until they’re quite thin. The first time I made them, I didn’t make them flat enough, and the tostones came out soft in the middle, rather than crunchy.
Do not reduce the heat on the oil while you’re flattening the plantains, because it only takes a minute. Return the flattened slices to the oil and fry them again. Turn over after a minute and keep turning over until brown flecks from the frying appear on both sides. With a 6″ skillet, I was able to get all the slices in for the first frying, but, once they were flattened, only half the slices fit back in. So I did the 2nd frying in two batches.
Remove the plantain chips from the oil and put on a paper towel to absorb the oil, and generously sprinkle regular salt on them.
Eat immediately! They’re best when they’re hot and crispy. You can dip in a sauce, but I prefer them plain.
Since I bought a bunch of plantains, I kept the oil and re-used it several times to make tostones all week. Not the healthiest food, but sure tasty!