We visited Panama last week and had an amazing time, but one thing that really caught our attention was the patacones, double fried unripe plantains that are a favorite snack and side in Central America and the Caribbean.
The best part about this is that Patacones are incredibly easy to make, so easy that I even hesitate to call this a ‘recipe’.
You will generally get four patacones from each plantain, so when you are making these, use this as a guide for how many unripe plantains you need. By unripe plantain, you are looking for plantains that are still green.
They key to creating your own perfect patacones is experimentation. People cook these very much to taste, so the thickness of the plantain chunks and the length of the first and second fry can have a huge effect on the crispness, the chunkiness and the flavor.
Peel the unripe plantains, the easiest way to do this is to cut the ends of the plantain and then carefully slice down one side of the fruit, then peeling the skin back.
Once you have peeled the plantains you need to slice the fruit in to 3-4 pieces, each piece should be just shy of an inch, but you should really cut to your tastes here, some people prefer slightly thicker or thinner pieces to others. Experiment as you cook them!
The key to great patacones is the ‘double fry’.
Fill a deep pan with around an inch of oil and put it on a medium high heat.
Bring the oil to a high temperature/boil and then place your plantain chunks in. Leave them in until they develop a yellow (not golden) color and flip them until cooked evenly.
Once they are cooked remove them from the oil and lay them on a paper towel, or on a plate where they can drain a little.
Now for the fun part.
Take each fried plantain chunk and squish it. You can use specialized tools for this, but really you just need two flat surfaces. You can adjust how much you crush them to taste, thinner patacones have a ‘crispier’ taste, where as thicker patacones have a softer center.
After the first fry you can salt them, this is optional but some people think this does taste better. You can also freeze patacones after the first fry, and save them for a second fry later.
second fry later.
If you are ready to eat you can now do the second fry.
You only need to leave these in for a very short time, this is a ‘crisping’ process, so look for a golden sheen.
Once they are done you are ready to eat! In Panama people generally salt or use hot sauce on their Patacones, and are eaten as a snack, or a side.