Tostones

Twice-Fried Plantains

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about 30 ; Serves

    4 to 8

Appears in

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.

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Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized green plantains
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ cup warm water, seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Method

With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 long cuts from end to end just through the skin of the plantains. Trim off and discard about 1 inch at each end. Peel, then slice the plantains into ¾-inch-thick rounds for flat tostones and 1½-inch-thick rounds for tostones rellenos.

In a deep-fryer or deep, heavy skillet, heat at least inches of oil to 340°F. Lower small batches of plantain slices into the oil and fry gently until tender and just beginning to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes for ¾-inch rounds and 3 to 4 minutes -inch rounds. Remove the rounds and drain them on paper towels. While still warm, flatten them to about half their original thickness. If making tostones rellenos, press the flattened but still warm and flexible slices gently into a ¼-cup measure to form cups. Let the cups rest until slightly firm, then carefully remove them from the measuring cup. Tostones may be prepared to this stage and refrigerated for up to one day or frozen for several weeks.

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.