Growing up, I loved the special occasions when my grandmother would track down the biggest, greenest unripened plantains she could find to make patacones. My grandmother did not love cooking, but she always enjoyed making this warm, crispy snack for us to share from her home country of Panama. Patacones (also known as tostones) are a common snack food in Panama and many parts of Latin America. Slices of unripe green plantain (~1/2" thick) are fried once, removed from the hot oil, and smashed into a patty that often resembles a flower. Then, these patties are fried a second time until golden brown, salted, and eaten while warm. They go great with ketchup, farm fresh cheese, or your favorite dipping sauce.
Plantains are a type of banana native to tropical regions and varieties can be found around the globe. Although they are a fruit, their flavor and texture when unripe is starchy and similar to a potato. They are particularly high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and soluble dietary fiber. This recipe* is just like the one my grandmother taught me.
Patacones (or Tostones) Recipe
- Unripened green plantains (the amount varies based on how much you'd like to make)
- Vegetable oil
- Cut off both ends of the plantain and cut a slit down the length of the peel. Remove the peel of the plantain.
- Cut the plantains at a slant into 1/4-inch slices.
- Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add a layer of sliced plantains into the hot oil. Flip occasionally to cook both sides. Lower heat if you notice the patacones cooking too quickly.
- Once they have started to brown and have absorbed oil, remove the plantain slices from heat and allow to cool.
- Once cooled, use a plantain smasher or cup with a flat bottom to squish the plantain.
- Place the now-squished plantains back into the oil, flipping occasionally to cook both sides, until patacones are crispy and golden. Turn down the heat if you notice they're burning.
- Add salt to taste and serve.
* This recipe was originally published at CarribbeanNationalWeekly.com.
Air Fryers provide an alternative cooking method for this salty snack with less added oil, like in this recipe.