If you’ve never tried plantains, you’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures. Yes, they’re a member of the banana family, but a green plantain has more in common with a potato that a ripe, gushy yellow banana, and a ripe plantain turned into plátanos maduros is more delicious than any regular banana could ever hope to be.
I’ve loved tostones, a twice-fried way to prepare green plantains, since the first time I had them. Incidentally, it was the also first time I really actually met Papi Chulo. He made them and brought them to a party, so it was an all around pretty darn good day. This recipe is actually a twist on the basic tostone because you soak the uncooked green plantain slices in a garlic and salt brine. The resulting tostones are garlic-y without being overpowering and 100% delicious!
You can make tostones one of two basic ways – from twice a green plantain or by frying frozen tostones you buy already fried once and smashed. If you want to enhance your tostones by adding a bit of garlic flavor, you’ll need to start with a whole green plantain, and I do mean a green plantain. Not one that’s starting to turn yellow, and certainly not a ripe plantain. A very green one. These garlic tostones take about an extra half an hour of waiting, but they are so amazingly delicious and well worth it. I recommend cooking one plantain for two people and cooking two plantains for three or four people. Either way, you won’t need to change the brine quantity.
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 green plantain
- ⅔ a cup of vegetable oil, or more for a large skillet
- Peel the plantain and cut it into thick slices, cutting them straight across, not on a diagonal. I like to make them ¾"-1" thick, but for larger tostones cut slices closer to 2" thick. To peel a plantain, cut the ends off and use a knife to cut the peel lengthwise and then pull it away. You can't peel a plantain like you would a banana!
- Mash the garlic and salt together with a mortar and pestle or, if you don't have one, with a fork.
- Place the garlic/salt in a bowl or gallon zip top bag and add enough cold water to completely submerge the plantains - about a quart. Add the plantains, place the container in the fridge, and let them soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the plantains from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Pour the oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet and add enough to cover the skillet's bottom with about an inch of oil. Heat it on medium high, or until the oil is about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, if you're measuring.
- Carefully add the dried-off plantains to the oil and fry, turning once, until they are soft. This should take 3-5 minutes, depending on how big the slices are and how hot your oil is.
- Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the plantain slices and place them on paper towels to drain. If you have a tostone press, go ahead and use it. If you're like the rest of us, place a plantain on one of its flat ends and use a measuring cup, large spoon, or small dish to smash them it down until it's about half its original thickness.
- It will look a bit like a slice of pineapple with the core still in the center. Repeat this process with the remaining slices of plantain.
- Turn the heat up a little to raise the oil temperature to about 350-275 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the smashed plantains and fry a second time, turning occasionally, until both sides are golden brown.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the tostones from the oil and allow them to drain on paper towels before serving them, but make sure to serve them hot!
I love these so much I am tempted to make them far too often! I think tostones are so much more delicious than french fries or potato chips, and they’re far easier to make at home than either of those dishes. If you decide you love them and want to make them regularly, a tostonera could be a good investment. They’re really affordable!
These tostones are the perfect complement to my shrimp enchilado or mojo pork tenderloin, but they also work well as a side for virtually any dish. They’re quick and easy to make and a fun departure from the usual American potato-based sides. Have you ever made tostones? Do you serve them with a topping or dipping sauce?