Everywhere we ate there were plantains at every meal. Most of the time they were boiled and I didn't care too much for them, until we ate at a 200 year old restaurant. It has been run by the same family all these years! When we ate there it was full of locals, walking chickens, iguanas. The grandma was cooking in the kitchen and her grandson was serving us. When be brought us our food it was delicious! My very favorite was the fried plantains and homemade cheese.
Holy crap I was in heaven! He told us about the house, and about his family- the Aguilar family. He said the cheese we were eating was made from scratch by his grandmother. It was amazing. the cheese had a squeaky cheese texture, but a rich salty creamy flavor.
Picking the right plantain
Since we have plantains here un the US recreating that part of the recipe is easy. Plantains are larger and firmer than bananas but look similar. They are often green in the store. Unlike bananas they reach their full ripeness when they are turning brown (usually were using banana for banana bread at this stage).
I tested out fried plantains at several different stages. When you make them at the brown stage of the peel the plantain will have a strong banana flavor and be very sweet. I personally like mine right before it hits that brown stage. I like them to have the great flavor but not too sweet.
How to make fried plantains
1.You'll need a white squeaky cheese. Queso fresco will work, but if you have a local store that has amazing white cheese that isn't as grainy go for that!.
3. A great sea salt. This is important! I love Redmonds Realsalt
Start by cutting your plantains diagonal, so that they are longer. you can also cut them into strips. You want then to be thin, but not too thin. ¼ of an inch is perfect.
In a fry pan heat a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil till its very hot. The oil will swirl around the pan like water. Fry each plantain on each side for just a few minutes. Set them out on a rack or paper towel for just a minute to let the oil drip off.
Slice your cheese into thin rectangles and place on top of the warm plantains.
After you've topped the plantains with the cheese you'll want to sprinkle a little bit of your best sea salt. Why sea salt? The salt on these fried plantains makes the flavor enhance 10x better. With the salt you can taste the sweetness of the plantain, the creaminess of the cheese, the nuttiness from the fruit and the sweet lingering taste of coconut. Before salt it all tastes a little more bland.
My favorite sea salt is Redmond RealSalt. It's mined here in the US, and had many other minerals and vitamins in it. I've taste tested it against several different types and brands of sea salt and this is hands down my families favorite. I can't promote this salt enough. It's incredible.
This post is part of a series featuring several other dishes I experience on my trip to Costa Rica. Here are some more recipes you HAVE to try also from this Costa Rica food series!!
- 4 Tablespoon coconut oil
- 1-2 ripe plantains
- sea salt
- queso fresco or other white squeaky cheese
- Heat coconut oil until very hot. It's consistency will thin out to be more like water.
- Prepare plantains by peeling and slicing diagonally into ¼ inch thick slices.
- Place in hot oil, a couple of minutes on each side. If oil starts to smoke turn down immediately and remove from heat. Let oil cool and then return to burner and finish cooking.
- Cook plantains on both sides until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oil and place on rack or paper towel. Top with queso fresco and sea salt. eat immediately.