Fried Ripe Plantains is one of those ubiquitous Caribbean dishes that's served with almost every meal.
The key to an excellent plate of Fried Ripe Plantains is to ensure that the plantains are at the right degree of ripeness. The skin should be almost black or in some cases, have a dull yellow color with patches of black.
The riper the plantain, the sweeter it is and that is why Fried Ripe Plantains are such a big hit with West Indians and non-West Indians.
Ripe plantains peel easily and cook up in no time.
Throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean, Fried Ripe Plantains can be found on all tables. Some people make it to accompany every meal while others make it to accompany specific meals. For example, in the South American country of Guyana, Fried Ripe Plantains are traditionally served with one of their national dishes, Cook-Up Rice (rice, beans, and meat cooked with coconut milk).
The varying degrees of ripeness is evidenced by the color of the plantain's skin which can go from cream to bright yellow to dull yellow with patches of black to completely black. For excellent Fried Ripe Plantains, you'll want to choose a plantain that the skin is dull yellow with patches of black or completely black - this is when a plantain is at its peak of ripeness.
A plantain at its peak of ripeness has exchanged all of its starch for natural sugars; frying it at this stage of full ripeness brings all the sugar to the surface, hence the brownness of fried ripe plantains and the wonderful taste notes from the caramelization. When frying ripe plantains, you are coaxing the sugars to the surface of the plantains. This is another reason why people opt to cut the ripe plantains diagonally - it provides a larger surface for caramelization.
Apart from choosing a plantain at its proper stage of ripeness, there are three other important things to take into consideration when frying ripe plantains.
The pan: use a non-stick skillet as this will aid in the easy release of the cooked plantain from the pan. Remember that sugar burns quickly and sticks. Given the high sugar content in the ripe plantains, a non-stick skillet is an excellent pan-choice.
Oil: use a neutral tasting oil such as canola or vegetable oil. The amount of oil used for frying should be just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Too much oil will cause the plantains to soak up the oil resulting in soggy plantains. After frying each batch, drizzle additional oil if needed.
Heat: use medium heat to fry the plantains. You may have to lower the heat depending on the size of your stove burner and pan. If you don't, your plantains can be burned in no time or brown too quickly.
- 2 ripe plantains, peeled and cut diagonally or round, into 1/4-inch thick slices
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Sea salt (optional)
- Drizzle oil into frying pan just enough to coat the bottom of the pan and place on medium heat.
- When oil begins to shimmer, add plantains (work in batches), and fry for 1 and 1/2 minutes on one side, flip and cook for 1 minute on the other side.
- Remove plantains from pan and rest on paper towels.
- Continue frying in batches until all the plantains are fried.
- Sprinkle lightly with sea salt to give a sweet and salt taste to your Fried Ripe Plantains.