Plantains are a starchy, unsweet variety of banana that are inedible raw and must be cooked before eating. Most are larger and slightly more angular in shape than ‘sweet’ bananas. They can be green, yellow, pink or very dark in colour depending on their variety and ripeness.
Some supermarkets sell plantains; they’re also sold in ethnic markets.
Plantains are cooked green, semi-ripe or fully-ripe. Treat them like a starchy vegetable and use in savoury or sweet dishes. Before cooking, peel by top and tailing the fruit, then cut along the angles of the skin and pull the skin away in strips.
Plantains can be simmered in soup or turned into mash, but their subtle taste is maximised by roasting or frying. They act as a foil to rich flavours such as spicy meat or bean stews. Salted fried plantain chips are a popular snack in the Caribbean.
Caribbean, South American and African cookbooks are good sources for plantain recipes.
Article by Sybil Kapoor
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