From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- This article is about the Plantain. For the small herb, see Plantago
Ripe plantains at market.
Musa × paradisiaca
Cooking plantains (pronounced plan-TENZ or plan-TAINZ) are a kind of plantains that are generally used for cooking, as contrasted with the soft, sweet banana varieties (which are sometimes called dessert bananas). The population of North America was first introduced to the banana plantain, and colloquially in the United States and Europe the term "banana" refers to that variety. The word "banana" is often used incorrectly to describe other plantain varieties as well, when in fact the generic name is "plantain" and the specific varieties are cooking plantain, banana plantain, bocadillo plantain (the little one), etc.
Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas and are used either when green or underripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet). Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when unripe. They are grown as far north as Florida, the Caribbean, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Egypt, and southern Japan or Taiwan and as far south as KwaZulu-Natal and southern Brazil. The largest exporter of plantains to the United States is Colombia. It is assumed that the Portuguese Franciscan friars were responsible for the introduction of plantains to the Caribbean islands and other parts of the Americas. The Spaniards, who saw a similarity to the plane tree that grows in Spain, gave the plantain its Spanish name, plátano.
 Plantain flowers
Plantain will flower only once, and all the flowers grow at the end of its shoot in separate bunches. Only the first few bunches will become fruits. Those that do not fruit are used for cooking, often chopped and fried with masala powder. In Vietnam the flower is used in salad. In Cuisine of Laos, banana flower is typically eaten raw in vermicelli soups.
 Plantain leaves
Traditionally plantain leaves are used like plates in several dishes, such as Venezuelan Hallacas, while serving South Indian Thali or during sadhya. They add a subtle but essential aroma to the dish. The leaves are fairly widely available in grocery stores or open air markets in Venezuela and can exceed two meters in length. They are also used to stimulate appetite as a fragrant smell is given off when hot food is placed on top of the leaf. In Nicaragua they are used to wrap their Nacatamales and also used for their Vigoron. In Honduras and Colombia, these are usually used to wrap tamales before and while cooking, and they can be used to wrap any kind of seasoned meat while cooking to keep the flavor in.
Plantain leaves are similar to banana leaves but are larger and stronger, therefore reducing waste. They are lightly smoked over an open fire and this adds to their toughness, their storage properties and the flavour they give. With plantain leaves there is a lot less disposal (pieces too small to use) than with banana leaves, which makes them a better choice.
 Plantain shoot
The plantain will only fruit once. After harvesting the fruit, the plantain plant can be cut and the layers peeled (like an onion) to get a cylinder shaped soft shoot. This can be chopped and first steamed, then fried with masala powder, to make an excellent dish.
 Plantain as food
The rootstock which bears the leaves is soft and full of starch just before the flowering period, and it is sometimes used as food in Ethiopia; the young shoots of several species are cooked and eaten.
Plaintains can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness, and very ripe plantain can be eaten raw. As the plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and its color changes from green to yellow to black, just like its cousin the banana. Green plantains are firm and starchy, and resemble potatoes in flavor. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy but sweet. Extremely ripe plantains are black, with a softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter than the earlier stages of ripeness.
Plantains in the yellow to black stages can be used in sweet dishes. Steam-cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for infants and the elderly. Ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning: it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana.
The juice from peeling the plant can stain clothing and hands, and be very difficult to remove.
 Dried flour
Plantains are also dried and ground into flour; banana meal forms an important foodstuff, with the following constituents: water 10.62, albuminoids 3.55, fat 1.15, carbohydrates 81.67 (more than ⅔ starch), fibre 1.15, phosphates 0.26, other salts, 1.60. The sugar is chiefly sucrose.
Plantain fruit can be brewed into an alcoholic drink.
After removing skin unripe fruit can be sliced (1 or 2 mm thick) and fried in boiling oil, to produce chips. This preparation of plantain is also known as 'tostones' in some South American countries. Tostones in Dominican Republic are twice fried patties, as you will see below. In Cuba, the thinly sliced chips are referred to as 'chicharritas' or 'mariquitas,' and tostones are also known as 'tachinos' or 'chatinos.' Both dishes are very popular as snacks and aperitif. In Ecuador and Peru they are called "chifles" with a thicker variant named "patacones." Chips fried in Coconut oil and sprinkled with salt is an important item in sadhya (a vegetarian feast) in the state of Kerala in India. The chips are typically labeled 'Plantain Chips' if they are made of green plantains that taste starchy like potato chips. In Honduras they are called tajadas. If the chips are made from sweeter fruit, they are called 'Banana Chips.' They can also be sliced vertically to create a variation known as Plantain Strips.
After removing the skin, the ripened fruit can be sliced (3-4 mm thick) and pan fried in plantain oil and sprinkled with salt to produce Maduros. In Ecuador they are also eaten baked in the oven. Some places, as in Puerto Rico, do not add salt. Maduros are a delicacy in Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica (although just called plantain) and the Nicaragua, . In Costa Rica they are sprinkled with sugar. In Western Nigeria fried sliced plantains are known as dodo, and in Cameroon, they are known as missole. Plaintain chips can be very tasty.
In Venezuela and Panama, fried ripened plantain slices are known as "tajadas." They are customary in most typical meals, such as the Pabellón criollo. The host or waiter may also offer them as "barandas" (guard rails) in common slang - as the long slices are typically placed on the sides of a full dish, and therefore look as such. Some variations include adding honey or sugar and frying the slices in butter, to obtain a golden caramel; the result has a sweeter taste and a characteristic pleasant smell.
In Panama, "tajadas" are eaten daily together with steamed rice, meat and beans, thus making up an essential part of the Panamanian diet.
By contrast, in Nicaragua, "tajadas" are fried unripened plantain slices and are traditionally served in a fritanga or with fried pork, or on their own on green banana leaves, either with a cabbage salad or fresh cheese.
On Colombia's Caribbean coast, "tajadas" of fried green plantain are consumed along with grilled meats, and may be considered almost the dietary equivalent of the French-fried potato of Europe and North America.
 Tostones / Patacones / Tachinos
Tostones are twice-fried plantain patties. Plantains are sliced in 4-cm (1.5-in) long pieces and fried in oil. The segments are then removed and individually smashed down either by hand or with a tostonera to about half their original height. Finally, the pieces are fried again and then seasoned to taste, often with salt. In the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the tostones are often dipped for about a minute or less in water seasoned with garlic salt. In some South American countries, the name 'tostones' is used to describe this food when prepared at home and also plantain chips (mentioned above), which are typically purchased from a store.
While tostones are generally made using green plantains because of their lower sugar content, some Tostone recipes are also made using yellow (ripe) plantains. However, when tostones are made with ripe plantains, they are not pressed flat and are referred to as "Amarillos" in the Spanish islands.
They are also known as "Maduritos" in the Dominican Republic, "Patacones" in Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador,'Tachinos' or 'Chatinos' in Cuba and "Bannann Peze" in Haiti. Patacones may be served with sprinkled cheese, shredded meat and chopped salad on top, very much like a Mexican tostada.
Fufu de platano (Plaintain's Fufu] is a traditional and very popular lunch dish in Cuba. Basically is boiled-smashed plantains with a kick. Is prepared boiling the plantains with a touch of salt in the water. After that they are smashed with a fork and then mixed with chicken broth and sofrito. Sofrito is a salsa prepared with a 2 spoons of pork's lard, garlic, onions, pepper, tomato sauce, a touch of vinegar and cumin.
In Venezuela, a yo-yo is a traditional dish made of two short slices of fried ripened plantain (see Tajadas) placed on top of each other with local soft white cheese in the middle (in a sandwich-like fashion) and held together with toothpicks. The arrangement is dipped in beaten eggs and fried again until the cheese melts and the yo-yo acquires a deep golden hue. They are served as sides or entrees. Known as fried plantain in belize and jamaica
Boli is the term used for roasted plantain in Nigeria. The plantain is usually berbecued/grilled and served with roasted fish and a hot palm oil sauce. Very popular as lunch snack in southern and western Nigeria ub Rivers and Lagos states. It is popular among the working class as a quick mid-day meal.
Mangu - a traditional dish from the Dominican Republic, consisting of green plantains boiled, mashed and seasoned with butter or oil to get a better tasting. It is traditionally eaten for breakfast or dinner, topped with sauteed onions and accompanied by fried eggs, cheese or salami. The plantains are hard, starchy bananas used for cooking, as contrasted with the soft, sweet dessert varieties.
 External links
- Plantain research at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
- Botanical.com: Plantain Fruit
- Oke, O.L.; and J. Redhead, Dr M.A. Hussain (1998). Roots, tubers, plantains and bananas in human nutrition. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Informartion Network on Post-Harvest Operations (INPhO), 198. FAO code: 86, AGRIS: SO1, ISBN 92-5-102862-1.