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Plantain | How To Cook Plantain The Healthy Way
The Big Size Type Bananas In The Image Above Are Called Plantains or Platanos In Spanish
Plantain - In this hub, I'll show you how to cook plantain, the healthy way. You'll also learn how to pick them when they are ripe and just right at the grocery store.
What Are Plantains, And What Do They Look Like?
Plantains are another variety of bananas that are usually grown in tropical areas. As seen in the image to the right, plantains differ from regular banana fruit in that they are usually bigger and firmer.
Plantains are very nutritious, they are known to be lower in sugar content than regular bananas, and are generally used for cooking. While bananas are almost always eaten raw, plantains should be cooked before it is consumed. Although I have known some to eat a ripe plantain raw. This is not a good practice as raw plantain is not easily digested in that state. So, in this hub we'll consider healthy ways to cook plantain. But first, how does the color of plantain play into how we cook the plantain?
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Green or Yellow Plantain
When cooking plantain, it's important to know that plantain cooks differently depending on whether it is ripe or not. Unripe plantains are usually green in color, while ripe plantain's color vary from yellow to brownish-yellow. The ripe plantain is sweet, firm, and easy to slice, and the skin peels easily.
Green, unripe plantains on the other hand are not sweet, they are a bit hard and skin can prove difficult to peel. However, green plantain are said to contain high level of iron, and is also a preferred substitute for yam in some African culture.
How To Cook Ripe and Unripe Plantain
Most people have seen plantain, but not all know how to go about cooking it. A great number of people don't even know that plantain has to be cooked prior to consumption. Oftentimes, I've had people walked over to me in grocery stores when I've bought plantain and asked me how to cook these nutritious fruit.
The style of cooking plantain varies from one culture to another. Whether they are ripe or not, plantains can be cooked in various ways. There's a healthy option, and there's a not so healthy option of cooking plantain, each will be covered in details in this hub. You can then choose the option that's best for you.
Plantain can be cooked boiled for those who do not fancy the frying method. To boil the green plantain,
- First rinse the skin to remove any dirt residue.
- Cut plantain into chunks, about 2 inches apart with skin on.
- Pour plantain chunks into 2 - 3 cups boiling salted water, cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain and remove skin.
When cooked (boiled) the green plantain resembles sweet potato in taste. It can be used as a substitute in some soup recipes that calls for potatoes. Boiling plantain with the skin-on helps to retain most of the nutrients and also keeps it from getting soggy.
Boiling plantain is an healthy way to cook plantain. This method only requires that plantain be cooked in water. No other ingredients is needed, not even the salt, which is optional. Boiled plantain can be alone or with some scrambled eggs and/or stew.
This is the most popular method of cooking plantain. Though most culture use this method of cooking, more and more plantain lovers are gradually moving away from frying plantain to either roasting, baking and boiling it for health reason.
Plantain can be fried in oil (preferably vegetable oil). To fry plantain,
- Remove the skin of plantain.
- Cut plantain into chunks, cubes, or circles. Different people like it different ways/shapes.
- Set your frying pan or wok on the stove at medium heat.
- Gently drop plantain pieces into hot oil to prevent oil from splashing which could cause serious burn.
- Fry plantain for about 5 to 10 minutes stirring or turning occasionally. Remove plantain from hot oil once its golden brown. Remove excess oil from plantain by dabbing with paper towel.
You can serve with scrambled eggs and salsa. This combo of fried plantain and eggs makes a great breakfast meal. It is both a sweet and healthy combination. Fried plantain can also be eaten alone with stew, or as a side dish with rice and beans.
When fried, unripe plantain is very crunchy and is usually eaten as chips. Fried ripe plantain on the other hand is very sweet and soft on the palette. Because of its sweetness, ripe fried plantain or chips are kids favorites and can be easily incorporated into any meal that kids love.
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Instructions for Grilling or Baking Plantain - Open Pit Method
Plantain can also be cooked by grilling or baking. Grilled or baked plantain is said to retain all of its nutrients as nothing is lost as with boiling or frying it. This method of cooking plantain is considered the healthiest of all and preferred by health conscious plantain lovers. It is also an healthy option for weight watchers.
A common method of grilling plantain is by placing peeled plantain on an open pit or grill. This is also called roasting. Plantain is left on an open fire pit until it is golden yellow (fully cooked).
In Nigeria (my native country), roasted plantain is called boli, or bole. In that part of the world, plantains makes a full meal by itself. They can be fried in oil (dodo), cooked by boiling (with skin on), or pounded in mortar and combined with some yam variety to make a fufu like meal (akpu) that is then eaten with soup.
Some people prefer to grill plantain with the skin on while some prefer to have the plantain in direct contact with the coal. A grilled plantain should be well cooked after about 40 - 50 minutes of being on the grill.
Ingredients for Grilled/Baked Plantain
- 1 - 6 Ripe Plantain, Yellow Firm
Instructions for Oven Roasted Plantain
- If you do not have a grill or open charcoal pit, you can roast plantain in an oven.
- Peel plantain, but do not cut into pieces as with frying.
- Set oven to about 400 to 450 degrees (depending on the oven)
- Place peeled, but whole plantain in oven. Bake the peeled plantain in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally to achieve an evenness in the roasting.
- Plantain should be ready to eat after 40 minutes of grilling/baking, or when plantain is golden brown.
If you've never tried plantain before, will you try it based on what you now know from this hub?
Grilled or Roasted Plantain Is Healthy Plantain
Roasting, or baking plantain in the oven is my preferred method because I don't have to deal with the smoke from the grill or pit and I get the same result, if not better. But, the good part is, whether your plantain in grilled on an open charcoal grill, or roasted or baked in an oven, these methods by far, provides a healthy way to cook plantain. Plus, there's no oil for frying, thus, fat free.
Grilled plantain can be eaten alone as a snack, dipped in butter, with roasted Spanish peanuts (my favorite, seen above), or dipped in salted palm-oil.
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Watch How to Cook Platain
Where To Buy Plantain?
Plantain can be found in the produce, fruit and vegetable isles of most grocery stores today. It can also be found at most farmers markets that caters to Eastern Mediterranean Cuisines, and in some Chinese stores. But you will most definitely find plantain in any African store or market.
When buying your plantain, stay away from the overly ripe and mushy ones. The yellow ripe, but firm plantains are better. These are perfect for grilling, frying, and boiling.
Keep a ready supply of plantain at home. They are handy as a quick fix for snacks, for a more elaborate part of your breakfast, or a side dish option. Whichever method you choose to prepare your plantain, one thing is sure, you'll enjoy having plantain as a great addition to your kitchen menu.
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Author: Comfort Babatola - ©2013