martes, 17 de agosto de 2010

Platanos & Homemade Salsa

A close relative to bananas, though larger, starchier, and generally less sweet, plantains are a staple of Nicaraguan cuisine. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner platanos are served in one form or another. If you don't like them at first, you will!
Most farms and quintas grow at least a few plantain trees, their gigantic green leaves and spectacular flowers making sure you don't forget this is the tropics. Plantain and banana trees flourish during our rainy season, and continue to produce fruit throughout the dry times. Every year new trees are planted amongst our coffee bushes to provide shade, guaranteeing me a constant supply of plantains in the kitchen.
Platanos require cooking in order to be palatable, and their form and flavor vary greatly depending on when and how they are cooked. Green unripe platanos are frequently fried up as a side dish, sliced in rounds or in the case of tajadas, in long thin strips. In the latter, plantains serve kind of as nachos, topped with meat or cheese or anything you want. As I inherited a local mandoline slicer over a year ago and have never used it, I decided it was time:
Tajada Time!
Slicing plantains so thin was time-consuming, not to mention a bit dangerous; bare hands near a wide blade required careful attention. I wish I had taken a picture of the uncooked strips to demonstrate how delicate they were.
Here I am frying them up in a generous pool of sunflower oil.
The ideal tajada is thin and crispy like a potato chip. After a few batches, I got the hang of it!
All the hard work paid off when the tajadas were served! We topped them with refried beans, soy "meat," shredded cabbage, and my new homemade hot sauce--see below for recipe. On the side I served cooked chayote squash.
I am always experimenting with new salsa recipes, this one is a favorite. and very easy! The recipe I found calls for jalapeños, for which I substituted our local chile pepper, congo. Congos are tiny so I used a whole handful--use your own discretion when choosing spiciness level. Hot peppers, along with several tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic are tossed with olive oil and then broiled.Once the tomatoes are blackened, remove from oven and cool. Peel off tomato skins, then blend it all up. Add cilantro, salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. that's it: roasty, flavorful, spicy sauce!
¡Buen provecho!

2 comentarios:

africanaussie dijo...

That salsa looks good - do you store it in the fridge? I was given some plantains by my neighbour last week and dont like to fry in too much oil. I sliced them in half lengthwise, so they were quite thick and sauteeed them in a tiny bit of oil, just to stop them sticking.I found the riper onces had that mouth puckering thing, but the green ones were very tasty. I would have thought it would be the other way around. I would be interested to hear of some other recipes.

Liz dijo...

I hear you on the oil. Frying is the numero uno way of cooking here. You can definitely bake plantains, i've heard of boiling them, and i've tried them bbq style on skewers--very tasty! The very green ones are usually savory, and the trick for a sweet flavor is to wait until the plantain is very overripe, like with black spots. enjoy!