Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tostones o "Frito": A Dominican Classic

One of the first times I went to the fiance's apartment, the power went out. Here, we say that "the light went out" or "se fue la luz." I went to his house alone, after one of my daily Spanish classes that I took last year after work.  Exhaustion set in on the ride over, and the fiancĂ© noticed when he came to pick me up. He offered to make me dinner, and frito is what he made, with all the lights out and one candle burning in his small kitchen. It was a lasting memory for me - sitting on the kitchen counter watching as he made something so natural for him, but just as foreign to me. 

This was in the beginning of our relationship, and I thought I had it made with a boyfriend that "liked to cook". 

Wrong. I bet an average 5 year-old in this country is familiar with how to make these bad boys - that's how often everyone eats tostones around here. When people ask who cooks between us, I say, "Mario makes the best frito." That normally gets a lot of laughs, and I didn't know why until I realized that everyone and their grandchild knows how to makes frito, and they do so all the time.

"Frito," or more formally called "tostones," are so good and easy, and you can eat them with anything. Whatever you normally eat with rice, eat it with tostones like a dip.  We eat them with any cooked vegetable, meat, cheese, or just with salt and ketchup. 

Recipe for Two


2 green plantains
oil for frying
1 lime
ketchup (optional)

First, peel your plantains. The best way to do this is to first cut off both ends and discard. Second, slice the plantain vertically two different times, from one end to another. Finally, remove the peel in pieces. If any parts of the peel cling to the flesh, remove with a paring knife. 

Now, you might be looking at your hands in shock.  The peel of plantains sometimes leave a sticky, black substance on your hands. Wash them right away so it is easier to get rid of, but don't worry, it's not fatal. 

Cut the plantains into 1/2 inch rounds. Fill the bottom of a large skillet with oil and let it heat all the way through. The oil needs to be hot hot hot before you fry the plantain pieces. When hot, add the plantain rounds. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes and flip them. Cook this side for about 1-2 minutes and then remove. Each side should be a golden yellow. 

Once they have cooled enough to handle, smash! your plantains with the bottom of a cup. That's right - pound the plantains with the bottom of a glass so that they spread out and looked squashed. Turn the heat to medium under your skillet with oil and place the newly squashed plantains in the oil. Let them brown a bit and flip them again. Remove and place on a plate covered in paper towels to drain. 

Sprinkle with salt and lime juice. Enjoy with whatever you like - start with ketchup and then work your way up. Serves 2.

a buen tiempo!

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