Two of our favorite places in Cuba for eating tostones are El Buganvil, on the outskirts of Havana, which serves fried plantain cups as tostones rellenos, filled with picadillo, black beans, or crab salad, and Vista Mar, a stylish restaurant located in a 1950s modern house with a great view of Havana Harbor, where the chef tops flattened, partially cooked plantain slices with small, wafer-thin rounds of raw plantain.
Tostones should be crisp and golden on the outside and tender on the inside. One of the secrets to making good tostones is to simmer the rounds gently in oil the first time, so that they cook until tender in the middle and don’t get too hard and brittle to flatten. Tostones are flattened, using a wooden gadget called a tostonera, or the bottom of a small glass or the palm of your hand. Before the final frying, drain the flattened slices on paper towels. Some cooks dip the slices in warm salted water to season them, and then set them aside. The final frying, done just before serving, should be in hot oil to crisp the outside.
With a sharp knife, make
In a deep-fryer or deep, heavy skillet, heat at least
If dipping the slices in warm salt water, do so at this stage, and then place them on paper towels to drain. When ready to serve, heat the oil in the deep-fryer or skillet to 375°F. Lower a small batch of tostones into the hot oil and fry until crisp and golden, 1 to 2 minutes for flat tostones and 2 to 3 minutes for cups. Remove the slices or cups, drain well on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately if possible, or keep warm in a 200°F. oven until ready to serve.
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