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Pound a plantain and what do you get? Banana crisps.

Only a few of the many banana species regularly reach our shores. But lately the plantain (pronounced plan-tin), the cooking banana, is showing up in mor supermarkets and Mexican and Asian markets.

Plantains are somewhat like regular bananas in color: they're green when young, turn yellow with black spots, and become completely black when fully ripened. They're longer than bananas (8 to 10 in. or more), thicker, and starchier, but like bananas are harvested immature.

Young plantains are firm and leave an astringent feeling in the mouth. Cooking destroys the unpleasant qualities of immature fruit, making it taste like a potato. When the skin turns black, ripe plantains are creamy and sweet, much like bananas; you can cook them or eat them raw.

Select plantains with plenty of stem still attached; if stems are cut away or broken, deterioration speeds up and may stop the ripening process. If you buy plantains with green to yellow skin, expect them to take about 12 days to fully ripen at room temperature. Although plantains are generally used green and yellow-black, they can be cooked at any stage.

The method we suggest for frying plantain chips is common in Africa and South America; after being fried once, the pieces of plantain are flattened, soaked briefly in water to take up moisture, then fried again to crispness. You can make the chips ahead and reheat. They're often incorporated in other dishes; some suggestions follow. Fried Plantain Chips

3 (about 2 lbs.) plantains with green, yellow and black-spotted, or completely black skin

Salad oil

4 cups cold water


Cut ends off plantains and peel, removing fibrous strings. Slice crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces.

In a deep 3- to 4-quart pan, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil to 375[deg.]. Add plantain pieces to oil without crowding; fry until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

With a flat-surfaced mallet, gently but firmly pound each round to about 1/8 inch thick. Place in water, without crowding, until edges absorb water and look puffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lift out and pat lightly with a paper towel to dry.

Return to oil and fry until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove from oil with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Salt lightly and serve hot. Or let cool, package airtight, and chill up to 2 days, or freeze for longer storage (thaw unwrapped).

To reheat, spread in a single layer on baking sheets and bake in a 450[deg.] oven until crisp and hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

Eat as a snack or use in one of the following ways. Makes about 3 cups.

Appetizer chips. Prepare fried plantain chips as directed. For each serving, arrange 3 or 4 hot chips on a salad plate. Alongside chips, spoon about 1 tablespoon each sour cream and fresh whitefish caviar (or half of a hard-cooked egg). Add a few slices of red onion.--Michael Roberts, Los Angeles.

Chips and roasts. Prepare fried plantai chips as directed. Pile hot chips on platter with roast meat or poultry. For a Veneuelan touch, drizzle chips with melted butter and sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Mexican hard white cheese or grated Parmesan, then dust lightly with cinnamon-sugar. Serves 4 to 6.

Chips and beans. Prepare fried plantain chips as directed. Accompany hot chips with sour cream and basic black beans (see the March 1984 Sunset, page 190). Makes 4 to 6 servings. Plantain and Corn Soup

3 (about 2 lbs.) plantains with green, yellow and black-spotted, or completely black skin

3 large ears husked corn or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn kernels

2 pounds boneless beef for stewing, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium-size onion, chopped

6 cups regular-strength beef broth

2 pounds beef marrow bones, cut into 2-inch lengths, optional

4 medium-size tomatoes, cored and diced

1 small fresh hot chili (such as serrano), minced

2 1/2 cups chopped green onion

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper

Fresh cilantro sprigs

Cut ends off plantains and peel, removing fibrous strings. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. If using fresh corn, cut corn from 2 cobs. Cut remaining ear crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, using a cleaver or a knife and mallet. Set aside.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, cook beef, covered, over medium heat to draw out juices, about 10 minutes. Uncover, add onion, and cook on high heat until liquid evaporates and meat browns well; stir often.

Add beef broth and bones; stir to free browned particles from pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Add plantains, tomato, and chili. Simmer until meat and plantains are very tender when pierced, about 30 minutes more. Discard bones, shaking any marrow into soup. Add corn kernels and slices. Return to a boil; simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in green onion, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until hot, then pour into a tureen and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serves 6 to 8.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1984
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