Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” Tecumseh
What is a Plantain? It is a member of the banana cultivar and while we classify it as a fruit, it is often eaten like a vegetable. The texture of a plantain is sticky and starchy and it can be prepared when it is green, yellow or dark brown. Some folks like to wait till the skin is black and the fruit is mushy before they eat it but, to me, that is the same as eating rotted food. So no thank you! Often, when people think of ripe fried plantains, they imagine they are/taste like fried bananas. They are not and they don’t; real plantains have a different texture and size and can be prepared in many ways. Whenever I look at fried plantains on the internet, I wonder why some look so nasty and soggy. Some folks think they are typically soggy, greasy and unattractive when fried and they don’t have to be. To enjoy sweet fried plantains, it is best to use firm, yellow plantains or mustard yellow ones with a tinge of brown.
Once a plantain ripens to a shade of yellow, it sweetens and can be enjoyed roasted, fried or boiled and you can get creative with your dish. To enjoy this popular dish, loved by kids in African, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian countries, I prefer it in a purist fashion so the flavor isn’t overwhelmed by sweeteners and heavy seasonings. The key is to pick your plantains ripe and firm not mushy. When I shop for plantains, I never buy blackened ones. Why? Because those are overly ripe and on their way out. I buy the yellow and mustard colored plantains and put them in the fridge to retard the ripening process. That way, when I fry them up, they are sweet, firm and aesthetically appealing to the eyes …. and definitely NOT greasy. Follow the simple recipe below:
Recipe: Fried Ripe Plantains
1-2 large yellow/mustard yellow plantains
Large plate spread with paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
You can also use a sieve and place it on the plate to catch any oil dripping.
1/4 tsp finely ground salt
1/4 cup oil – Groundnut oil, Corn oil, Canola/Argan oil are best
To peel the plantains, cut the ends off and make an incision lengthwise on the plantain with a sharp knife. Peel the skin off. Holding the fruit firmly in one hand or resting on a chopping board, slice the plantain into 1 inch slanted (see above) or round pieces. Place the sliced pieces in a mixing bowl and sprinkle them with salt. Make sure the salt is spread evenly and mix by hand or with a spoon as needed. Set the bowl aside.
In a large frying pan, add the oil, set the stove temperature at medium heat and wait for the oil to warm up a little. Test the oil with a drop of water to see if it sizzles; make sure it is warm NOT hot. Add the plantain slices and fry each side, turning them over with a fork when they are golden brown. Turn the heat to low or off and Scoop them out as soon as they turn golden brown. Place the plantains on the paper towel on a large plate or in a sieve to absorb any extra oil, and serve hot as a side dish with rice and beans and a tomato based sauce, with any other entree, as a complement to an omelette or simply enjoy them on their own. Two large plantains can serve 4.
Roasted Kabocha Recipe below!
“When one has tasted it he knows what the angels eat.” Mark Twain
When some folks see Kabocha, they think it will taste like your run of the mill squash, it doesn’t. Kabocha has a very sweet taste and a moister, fluffier sweet potato texture with hints of chestnuts. It is rich in nutrients and makes a delicious addition to your roasted winter root vegetables dish. It is a winter squash cultivar and is specifically known as the Japanese pumpkin/squash of the extensive Cucurbita maxima variety. It is typically round with a deep green exterior which has little bearing on its ripeness. Some have color striations and you can cut through the thick outer skin with a big knife and then let it ripen a bit longer in your vegetable basket or fridge.
What I also love about Kabocha is that the flavor hits your palate with such force that it fills your head with deliciousness in a way you’d never expected from such an innocuous looking squash/pumpkin. Our favorite way of eating it at home is to roast it by itself or cut it into smaller chunks and roast it with other root vegetables. It can be paired with a fish or any protein dish, made into a delectable creamy soup or tossed with salad greens. Whichever way you choose eat it, make sure you let it cook through so that a fork can pierce right through the flesh to the bottom. Buon Appetito! Follow the simple recipe below:
Recipe: Roasted Kabocha
1 large Kabocha Japanese pumpkin
Sturdy, sharp knife.
Roast pan and parchment paper or foil
small mixing bow
Oven at 375
1/4 tsp The Mediterranean gourmet Ras-el-Hanout Moroccan spice blend (a high quality spice blend of rosebuds, coriander, cinnamon, fennel and other spices)
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
1/4 tsp rosemary garlic seasoning
1/4 tsp coarsely ground salt
2 Tbs oil – Olive oil or Canola/Argan oil
Wash and dry the Kabocha squash. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and veins. Cut into smaller quarter pieces and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, add all the seasonings and using the food brush, mix and blend the seasonings well with the oil. Spread the Kabocha pieces on a baking tray covered with parchment paper or foil. Using the brush, brush generous amounts of the seasoning mixed with oil on each piece, making sure that each piece gets some seasoning. Cover the top with foil. Place in oven and bake/roast at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes or until a fork pierces through the meat of the squash. Remove from oven and serve hot with an entree of your choice. Enjoy! I love both of the food items I shared and I hope you will try out the recipes and share your feedback with me. One Kabocha pumpkin can serve up to 6 people. Enjoy!
When I go out to dinner,
I do not want to share.
I don’t care what is on your plate;
I don’t want to compare.
I scan the menu up and down
And then make my selection.
When it arrives, it’s meant for me
And not for your inspection.
“You want to taste my fish?” I’m asked.
Some people never learn;
For then the expectation is
To taste mine in return.
And so the answer’s always No!
Yet comments never cease.
“Your fries look really good!” They are,
So let me eat in peace!
Each morsel on my dish is mine
And I intend to finish.
Perhaps my attitude will make
Your thoughts of me diminish.
I’m sorry if that is the case –
Dessert I’ll split just fine;
But when the meal’s delivered –
You eat yours and I’ll eat mine!
Copyright © ilene bauer |
Have a Happy, Healthy 2017!
Positive Motivation Tip: Food is a great way to build our bodies and our memories.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos – via Wikipedia, and/or via Pixabay