As the fortunate son of a diplomat, I got the opportunity to reside in many countries and learned to appreciate different cuisines most Americans would consider disgusting. The first time I tested fried yellow plantain was in Lagos, Nigeria at a bustling road side restaurant.
I was only seven years old, and there were flies everywhere, which amazingly, most of the patrons found ways to ignore. The dish itself was friend plantains and scrambled eggs African style, and it was delicious regardless of the less sanitary condition. Since that day, creating plantain dishes became part of my culinary skill and I still make it to this day.
What is a Plantain?
In a nutshell, a plantain can be looked at as the bigger brother of the yellow banana plant. Plantains are usually harvested while green in color, and will ripen after a few days. As plantains ripen, the skin becomes softer, and some would say the sweeter it gets.
While plantains are usually eaten fried or cooked, eating one raw is just as tasty and delicious. When you eat one raw, you’ll discover is contains less sugar than a banana. Plantains are quite popular and grown in over 100 countries.
The many dishes one can make with either the green or yellow plantain is only limited by your imagination. There are yellow plantain recipes that calls for boiling and then pounding the fruit into a pulp, before other fresh ingredients are added.
The versatility of the fruit can be traced to the nutritional contents associated with eating one. While I have no doubt plantains can be grown in America, the majority of the ones consumer here are imported from Caribbean and central America, including African countries.
Plantain Banana Health Benefits
Now that we know what a plantain is, let’s examine some of the minerals and vitamins one can derive from eating the fruit on a daily basis. It is one of the best sources of carbohydrates, and it has a very low fat content.
Some of the best known health benefits of eating ripe yellow plantains are:
Good Source for Natural Potassium – Just so you know, potassium helps in regulating proper internal organ functions and you can get a significant amount by eating plantains. Based on numerous studies, people with the right potassium levels tend to be less susceptible to osteoporosis, stroke, and renal disease.
Potassium plays a key role in fighting the negative effects of too much sodium in your body. Also, the role it plays in helping to properly regulate your body’s blood pressure cannot be underestimated.
Better Digestive System – The more plantains you consume the better will be your digestive system. It is not the type of food you eat and feel bloated. Plantains can supply a good portion of your daily fiber needs, which ultimately leads to better digestive health.
It is the type of food ingredient that go through your digestive system with ease, which is ultimately a good thing. Any plantain dish you consume will make you full, thus helping obese individuals to consume less calories on a daily basis.
Can Provide Good Natural Antioxidants – It is the right food to eat since it can supply all the vitamin A your body needs on a daily basis. This is the key vitamin responsible for optimum cell growth and glowing skin health.
The Vitamin A that’s derived from plantains can help neutralize the power of free radicals, while keeping inflammation at a minimum due to overreacting cells.
Other benefits attributed to plantains include:
The nutrients found in plantains will help to keep free radicals at bay before they can do significant damage to your body. Plains contain a form of vitamin B6, which enhances the healthy functioning of your brain. Just from eating plantains, you can satisfy your body’s need for the right amount of magnesium, which is a key substance for good overall body health.
How to Fry Plantains
The many ways you can prepare plantain dishes is based on culture. This universally eaten fruit can be used to make many dishes, but we will only focus on how to fry yellow plantains in this article. To fry any type of plantain the right way, you’ll need the following items:
A frying pan, or mostly called a skillet in western countries
Cooking oil (I prefer to use extra-virgin Olive oil for health reasons, but other brands would do)
Plantains – This fruit can be purchased in either green, yellow, or black color. The green colored plantain would be too hard and probably not ready for frying, unless you want to boil it. You want your plantain to have yellow color, but not too ripe.
Plantains with black color or streaks of black color are probably too ripe and will be mushy when fried. Your preference might be different from mine, but feel free to experiment to determine which style better satisfy your culinary taste.
Steps to Making Fried Plantains
Rinsing the plantain itself is optional, but probably better for sanitary reasons, for you do not know the cultivating and harvesting methods used. Slight rinsing of the fruit is okay.
With your sharp knife cut out both ends of the plantain fruit. Be sure not to cut out too much of the fruit itself in the process, for all you need in an opening.
Peel the skin by slicing a straight line through the fruit itself. Try to concentrate your slicing on the skin of the plantain itself. The green plantain would be hard to peel, but slightly yellow plantains would be far easier to peel.
The way you cut your plantain is up to you, but there are some rules to follow. I prefer the slightly rounded cut that is not too skinny or too large. Some people prefer to cut the plantain into smaller chunks. After cutting or slicing the plantain into smaller pieces, you can add small amount of salt or not.
Why add salt you might ask since the fruit itself is sweet, it is not compulsory, for I have tried it with or without salt. Salt addition is not necessary, but out of habit and the way I was thought I sometimes add the ingredient.
With your skillet on the stove at a moderate temperature, add your olive or frying oil and wait for it to heat up. I suggest you use low flames as you do not want the oil to get too hot and burn your plantains the moment you add them to the skillet.
The key is to slowly fry the smaller plantain until each side turns brown. After each side turns brown you’ll have to flip it over to the other side for the same process. Frying plantains require you stand close by to monitor the progress.
It is a meal you can prepare in less than ten minutes, and your complete attention is required to make sure it is not burnt. Also, whenever you deal with frying oil, pay close attention to what you’re doing especially if you have little kids inside your living quarters.
You have to remove each of the plantain as they get the required brown color. Remember both sides have to be fried to complete the yellow plantain cooking process.
While it is common to find fried plantains been consumed as part of a breakfast meal, nothing prevents you from eating it during lunch or dinner. You can eat your fried plantain by itself or you can add scrambled eggs on top of it.
It is also common to find fried plantain added to rice stewed dishes. As a kid, I enjoyed eating it by putting a few pieces between two slices of bread. Fried plantain is a universally eaten food, and feel free to experiment how you’ll like to consume the fruit for all its health benefits.
Also, the rules on how to cook plantains is not set in stone, for the above tips are just to get your imagination flowing in the right direction.