I hadn't ever really tried plantain except once at primary school. I knew that, for me at least, it would be highly convenient to like plantain (the banana's firmer, carbier cousin) because you get buy them everywhere in South London. Three for a quid usually. Tidy.
After some experimentation with plantain, I can conclude DON'T BUY THE GREEN ONES: fry them up and they just taste like old tough potato. Only good for making crisps with. My corner shop man told me it's the old yellow/black ones you've got to go for and he wasn't wrong — I love em. They're like a cross between a potato and a banana.
Just shallow fried and scattered with sea salt is good, but what really makes them supreme is serving them with a really hot smoky pepper sauce - and a little smattering of crumbled feta. It's like hot - sweet - salty - creamy - cold and firey. And, where you find plantain, you can expect to find scotch bonnet chillis, which are hotter than the sun, so you only need half of one.
I don't have a barbecue, so all my smokiness and charring comes from my gas rings. If you're adopting this method just make sure you've got tongs. Definitely use tongs.
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
For the pepper sauce:
- 1 red pepper
- 1 chilli (I used a scotch bonnet because I like pain)
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 30ml red or white wine vinegar
- 30ml olive oil
For the rest:
- 1 yellow plantain
- sunflower/veg/canola oil for frying
- a handful of feta cheese
- coriander if liked
- For the sauce, put the whole pepper straight onto the naked gas flame, and cook on all sides 'til nice and blackened (use tongs!). Do the same for the chilli. We want smokiness you see.
- Toast the cumin, fennel seeds, cinnamon and brown sugar in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until they smell nice.
- Whiz up the pepper and chilli (remove stalks) along with the spices, vinegar and olive oil until smooth and season to taste.
- Heat about an inch of oil and, when hot, add your plantain. Fry on each side until golden then sit on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Arrange on plates, with feta and coriander sprinkled over.