Plantains can be eaten as a snack or a side dish and they taste amazing regardless of whether they're green or black. Here are 10 plantain recipes that'll make your mouth water. Learn how to cook (and eat) plantains like an Ecuadorian!
10 Ways to Cook Plantains (Easy Recipes)
Because plantains can be eaten fried or baked, green or black, and as bread or chips, there are a lot of amazing recipes that you can try on your Ecuador trip or that you can make at home!
Here are the plantain recipes that I recommend:
“Chifles” means “chips” in Spanish and it normally refers to plantain chips. These chifles have such a range of flavors, from a subtle green plantain to spicy to sweet ripe plantain.
You can have the green plantain chips with lime or a fresh encebollado (a purple onion and tomato salad).
They are also cracked up and put on top of ceviche (cold fish/shrimp soup) or encebollado (an onion and fish soup – yes there are two kinds of encebollado), which tastes so good!
Some friends of ours run a few food stands that specialize in encebollado. A secret recipe for which they have been offered many thousands of dollars and refused.
Green plantain chips have a wonderful loud crunch and a light yellow color whereas ripe plantain chips are kind of chewy and have a nice caramel color.
You can find both of these all over Ecuador, with green plantains being more common. They are normally sold in clear plastic bags.
Lemon chifles have been my favorite for many years. The post I wrote years ago about chifles (when I was just 12-years-old) is included below. Check out the recipe!
2. Bolon de Verde
Bolon de verde is an amazing breakfast food! They are made with green plantains, cheese, and/or pork rinds (chicharrones).
This is all squished into a ball and fried. They are so delicious! The cheese is all melted and warm, it's so filling.
Definitely, something you should try on your trip! You can find it at most local restaurants or you can try to make it at home! Check out the recipe!
3. Fried Ripe Plantains with Cheese
Fried ripe plantains and cheese are served with so many traditional dishes.
Typically, they consist of two pieces of fried, sweet, ripe plantain with a nice piece of salty cheese in the middle.
I like these best with cheese! The cheese melts and gets all gooey and it is so delicious. The contrast between the sweet and the salty is a delight. Check out the recipe!
Patacones are double-fried green plantains that are often served with lime as a side dish to meats. I find them to be a nice alternative to french fries!
They have a very mild flavor, but a great texture because they are crispy on the outside and soft inside. The lime adds just enough zip for a “party in your mouth.”
For the gear you'll need, see the section at the end of the post.
Here's the recipe for patacones:
5. Empanadas de Verde
These empanadas are made with green plantains and filled with cheese and sometimes onions or meat.
They are naturally gluten-free, so it may be a good baked treat for you to try on your trip! They are so yummy with a coffee. Check out the recipe!
6. Pure de Platano Maduro
Spiced ripe plantain puree is a great side dish for meats and it also works on its own with cheese crumbled on top.
This is a great dish to make if your plantains are ripening faster than you can cook them. Check out the recipe!
7. Dulce de Platano Maduro
If you want something sweet and spicy, this is the way to go! These sweet ripe plantains are cooked with spiced raw sugar cane (called panela in Ecuador) and served with ice cream.
I haven't had the opportunity to try these, but they look amazing! I will definitely be trying them in the future. Check out the recipe!
Tigrillo is a cheesy green plantain mash cooked or served with an egg. This is made kind of like an undone bolon de verde.
In my opinion, you will receive a better texture if you cut the plantain thicker and boil instead of frying. Tigrillo makes an amazing deliciousness and a filling dish! Check out the recipe!
9. Corviche: Deep Fried Fish and Green Plantain
Corviche is made by mashing up grated green plantain. It's then mixed with spices and peanut butter, formed into balls and stuffed with fresh tuna.
The ball is then deep-fried and served with homemade mayo and onion salad. My mouth is watering while I write this…
Learn more about corviche.
10. Stuffed Plantains (Tostones Rellenos)
This is a twist on the standard, flat patacones. Patacones are also known as tostones.
To make stuffed patacones, you'll need a different smasher. After the first fry, you put the plantain piece in the special smasher and it flattens and shapes it into a cup.
Just toss it back in the oil and fry. When it's done, it will be a toasty, cup-shaped tostone which is perfect to fill with onion salad (my favorite) or maybe ground beef and salsa – or just about anything else.
Check out the recipe.
How to Make Plantains: Gear
While no specific gear is required to make plantains, a few simple things can make it much easier.
1. Plantain Slicer: Mandoline
While I love the ease of this tool, I haven't used one myself. The exposed blade scares me. But obviously this isn't the case for millions of people. I prefer to slice with a knife and cutting board.
If you want to try this plantain slicer, here's one by Imusa on Amazon.
There is a safer option (Shoof Slicer) that comes with a rubber finger grip for safety and it's dishwasher safe. I haven't used this one – but it comes well reviewed – and I'm thinking about giving it a try.
If you've used a mandoline for plantains, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear how it's working for you.
2. Plantain Squasher / Press
Squashing Plantains: Now this is one that is lots of fun. There are at least 3 styles of these squashers. They come in regular, large, and stuffed.
To make patacones, you'll need something to smash the plantain bit before frying it for the second time.
In the past, I've used a glass and a plate – and while they can work, I don't recommend it. First of all, oily plantains are slippery and it can be hard to quickly squish them. And I've read horror stories of glasses breaking when they are pressed down with enough pressure to squish the section of plantain.
Once you use an actual plantain smasher, you won't go back.
Here are the presses that we use. All three are made by Imusa.
- Standard Tostonera: This is the staple plantain smasher. This will make patacones most common in Ecuador.
- Jumbo Tostonera: This makes thinner, wider patacones. It comes in bamboo or wood. I understand that this size is more common in the Caribbean.
- Stuffed Plantain Smasher (Tostones Rellenos): This works on the same principle as the others, but it creates a cupped shape with each plantain portion – allowing it to be filled with all types of goodness.
Here are a couple of our smashers. The first photo shows a large and a stuffed press and the second shows the interior of these presses. You can see the deep cavity for the stuffed press.
3. Plantain Grater
We also have the Ninja Mega Food Processor which would make quick work of a green plantain. I haven't used this yet, but I'm making plans as I write this.
4. Parchment (or Wax) Paper
When it's time to smash them, the plantain sections are sticky, wet, and oily.
Add a layer of parchment paper to either side of the smasher. This will keep them from sticking – which means you'll waste less and make cleanup a breeze.
With a few tries, you'll be making plantain chifles like these in no time!
And before I conclude the post, I would like to share a post I wrote back in January 2012 (I was 11-years old).
Great Ecuador Treat: Plantain Chips
So, before we came here I didn't even know plantains existed,(so you can see that I didn't know plantain chips existed).
So What is a Plantain Anyway?
Well, it's a banana-like… thing, vegetable or fruit, I don't know, it is starchy like a potato and sweet like a banana! Pretty interesting.
Here there are about 3 main brands, my fave is Platanitos, translation : little plantains. They come plain, sweet, and lemon, my fave is lemon!
Here are some pics:
This is the end of my nostalgia. Back to the original post.
How do you eat your plantains?
We hope you've enjoyed learning about how we eat plantains in Ecuador. Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine is! Plantains are definitely a staple of traditional Ecuadorian food.
This is only a partial list of all the wonderful things you can do with plantains. Let us know in the comments which of these you have tried, which you're going to try next, or if we missed your favorite!