Even though I was born and raised in New York City, my heart belongs to the Dominican Republic. So today, Dominican Independence Day, I wanna send a HUGE shout-out to all of my Dominican Brothers and Sisters. As a first generation Dominican child, I was less than proud. We ate weird foods and didn’t speak English. The part of the country where my family was from didn’t not have indoor plumbing or steady electricity. And despite being on an island in the Caribbean, we were a long way from the beach.
My maternal grandparents house where I spent many summer vacations as a child.
As I got older, I saw things in a different light. Our weird foods made us special. Not many people in the world understand the joy of eating morcilla (blood sausage) or pigs feet. (I know it sounds less than appetizing, but trust me, few things are more delicious.) Not having indoor plumbing meant we bathed “al fresco”. And not only have I gathered water from a well, but have witnessed one being dug from scratch.
My paternal grandparents house where I stay now when I visit.
The Dominican Republic is known by most as the birth place of stellar baseball players and the home of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But there is so much more! And to celebrate it’s independence, today I bring you a side dish made from it’s National Food – Platanos (Plantains).
On any given day, platanos can make an appearance is every meal of the day in the Dominican Republic. (And by platanos I am referring to the green, starchier variety) Yes – you read that right – we eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We boil them, mash them, fry them, add them to soups and stews and even bake them into casseroles. I have yet to come across a Dominican that does not love platanos. So to celebrate Dominican culture on A Chica Bakes, I’m taking a break from desserts and showing you my favorite way to enjoy platanos.
Tostones are a very common side dish in the Dominican Republic. Think of them in the same vain as plantain chips only thicker and meatier (and way tastier). Making them is quite simple. I’m going to skip the formal recipe for this post and show you step-by-step.
Cut the ends of your platanos and peel off the skin.
Then slice the platano on an angle into thick chunks.
Fry the chunks until lightly golden brown in vegetable or canola oil. This is the only part in the process that is a little tricky. The oil shouldn’t be crazy, crazy hot but if it is not hot enough, you will end up with greasy tostones. If you want to be really precise, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Also, I don’t completely submerge them in oil at this stage.
Then take your chunks and smash them. There is a not-so-fancy piece of equipment called a tostonera you can buy to do this. But this is the ONE time when I don’t think special equipment is needed. I revert to my mother’s method and use a cup or glass. Remember, these are meatier than chips. So don’t smash them too thin. Also, if they are too thin they absorb too much oil.
After smashing, fry again in the same oil until they turn a couple shades darker.
Then sprinkle with salt and devour! Don’t let them sit too much when they are done. These are best enjoyed immediately after frying. They also don’t reheat well. But I doubt you will have any leftovers as tostones are insanely addictive.
Hope you enjoy this little piece of my culture. I’ll be enjoying some tostones today with an ice-cold Dominican beer, dancing the day away to merengue and bachata and paying homage to one of the most beautiful places in the world – Quisqueya Le Bella – The Dominican Republic.