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These days you can find plantains in most groceries stores.  Unfortunately many people do not know what they are or how to cook them.  Plantains belong to the banana family but it is important not to confuse them.  While bananas are generally eaten ripe and raw, plantains need to be cooked whether they are ripe or unripe.

Patacones or Tostones (the names given to fried plantains) are an easy recipe to start cooking plantains and enjoying  their taste.  Fried Halloumi and home made salsa is a simple topping full of flavour and very easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 large plantains
  • Vegetable oil to fry
  • Salt
  • Halloumi cheese

Ingredients for the Salsa

  • 4 spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 medium size tomatoes  (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • a few drops of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • Salt

Method for the Salsa

  • Start by chopping all the ingredients.
  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl add the vinegar, water, tabasco and salt.  Mix well with a spoon.  The salsa should be made at least one hour in advance so all the flavours have time to infuse.

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Method for the Plantains

  • Slice the plantains down the length of the peel and break the skin away from the flesh.  Slice them on the bias into 2 to 3 centimetres thick pieces.

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  • In a frying pan put enough oil to fry them.  Once the oil is hot add the plantain slices in a single layer.
  • Fry them until they are almost done.   Remove from the pan onto a plate covered with paper towels.

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  • Flatten the plantains.  To do this I use the bottom of a flat bottomed glass bottle and press them.  Be careful not to put too much pressure or the plantains will fall apart.

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  • Place them back in the hot oil and fry them until they are golden brown.

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  • Drain them on paper towels and make sure to change the paper towels as often as needed.
  • Sprinkle the patacones with salt.

Method for the Halloumi Cheese

  • Slice the Halloumi into 1/2 cm thick slices.  Coat with vegetable oil.
  • Heat a non-stick pan and fry on each side for 1 minute.
  • To serve, place 3 patacones on each plate.  Top the patacones with a slice of Halloumi and spoon some of the salsa on top.

Tips

  • The plantains should be green.  If they are a bit yellow the plantains will be sweeter but the texture is too soft to flatten them.
  • Plantains are always double-fried so they will be crunchy.
  • For a special treat eat the patacones with a slice of queso Campesino o blanco if you can find it. Sometimes it is difficult to find queso Campesino that is why I use Halloumi which adds another dimension to this dish.

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