I couldn’t be content serving just the Cuban-style mini-burgers without a strong supporting side. I wanted something fried and crispy, you know, to keep with the “burger” theme. But potatoes, and hence French fries, aren’t very Cuban. Plantains, though, are. Like potatoes they are starchy, and–like potatoes–they can be fried.
Because this specific batch was to substitute the crunchy crispiness of French fries, I squashed the plantains a bit thinner than what is common for tostones. I was going for a version that highlighted a bit more crunchiness, and I got it. Do what feels right for your taste though. I’d recommend squishing and frying a couple at different thicknesses to get a feel for how crispy they get.
I’m not sure why it didn’t dawn on me at the time, but I didn’t even think about cutting them into French fry shapes. I was just hooked on making tostones and really needed to see that through. They were great and I don’t regret not doing plantain-french-fries except maybe for the novelty factor.
I still think I may try to cut some into French fry lengths at some point to see how that works out. Click through for the recipe and to see how I made these.
I normally go with one plantain per person to make sure everybody has enough. Not everyone eats that much though. As with any fried food, they are best the day they are made.
3 unripe plantains (firm and green)
2-3 cups of vegetable or canola oil
1. Cut off the ends of the plantains and cut the plantains into approximately one inch segments. Score the skin on each side and peel off the skin. The skin is like a tougher version of a banana peel.
2. Heat about two or three cups of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. (FYI, cast iron rocks.) Once nice and hot (a pinch of flour in it will sizzle and dissipate quickly), add the rounds of plantains. The oil should come up about half way up the plantains. Fry until lightly golden brown, flip, then fry the other side until it gets light golden brown too. Remove them from the oil and allow to cool slightly. (You can reduce the heat on the oil for now, you’ll need to bring it back to the same temperature again later.)
3. Smash them with the base of a plate or bowl. Just put each round on a cutting board and press down on them until they get flat. (You can do this in your hands too, but I find that a piece of parchment paper on either side and using a plate/bowl is great.)
4. Optional seasoning: Soak each flattened round in salt water for about a minute. The water should be salty like sea water. Pat them dry, then continue with the next step.
5. Re-add the tostones back to the hot oil and fry again for about five minutes, until crisp (flip them once). Once fried, drain them on a couple layers of paper towels. If you skipped step 4, sprinkle lightly with salt.