When Making Fried Plantains, Patience Is Key To Avoid Burning

In the U.S., plantains are often overshadowed — or even confused — with banana varieties. However, worldwide, the starchier plantain represents 85% of global banana production. And for a good reason: Satiating, inexpensive, and easy to cook, they're a perfect alternative to potatoes or other starchy vegetables.

Plantains can be prepared in a wide range of methods, including boiled, baked, and ground, but it's hard to beat a classic fried preparation. Enjoyed on their own or repurposed into a dish like pastelón, such a method showcases the best of their consistency. Crispy on the outside with a softer interior, frying plantains only involves a pan and some hot oil. However, nailing such a perfect consistency does involve some deft handling, since plantains are especially prone to drying out and taking on an unpleasant burnt taste when overcooked. As a result, it's paramount to keep your heat low and give the cooking process the time it deserves.

Cook plantains on lower heat to ensure no burnt flavor

With their slightly soft, potato-like feel, it may be tempting to crank up the heat and let your plantains sizzle to crispy goodness. However, such a move will lead to a burnt, off-tasting exemplar. Instead, dial in the burner to a medium heat and keep an eye on the timer. The fruit needs only a few minutes on each side until the outside hits an appealing golden-brown color. Anything darker and the result will be too dry; anything less, and the plantains will remain hard.

The fruit rewards patience — so it's no surprise there are more time-consuming variations to frying them, too. Some of them — especially the starchier green plantains — fry best after soaking in water, which aids in retaining moisture (just remember to thoroughly dry them before letting them touch the frying oil!). For a more chip-like consistency, the fruit can also be twice-fried. By first cutting it into big chunks and frying, then smashing them and cooking once more, the result will be pieces larger in diameter without a speck of burnt texture. Simply dip into a sauce of your preference and enjoy.