HOW MANY WAYS CAN YOU PREPARE PLANTAINS?

JuliaGrace Walker - Ecuador


December 6, 2017

When I came to Ecuador, I came with the preconceived notion that platano meant banana in all Spanish-speaking countries.  I did not realize a simple fruit’s name could change based on the country you are in. I assumed platano was a universal word in Spanish.

Ecuador does not take their produce lightly. They harvest at least three varieties of every fruit and vegetable, and each variety has a different name. From what I have gathered, there are three types of bananas: Platano (Plantain), Maqueño (Red Banana), and Guineo/Banano (Banana).

 

size comparison
Oro, Maqueño, Guineo/Banano, Platano

 If that was not confusing enough, there are two ways to refer to Plantains based on how ripe they are: Maduro(ripe plantain) and Platano Verde(unripe plantain.)

maduro v. verde
Platano Maduro versus Platano Verde  

I have heard rumors of the Oro Banana, but have not seen it yet. It is supposedly a tiny banana.  

oro 2
Oro 

According to the Ecuador’s government website, “Thirty percent of the world’s banana supply is from Ecuador. It is also Ecuador’s second largest export and amounts to ten percent of Ecuador’s imports”.

In the US, I am not a big fan of raw bananas, and I thought my host family was not either. There is always a large hand (the term for a cluster of bananas) of bananas on the dining room table. I thought we were eating cooked bananas and plantains all the time, which is fine by me because they are delicious.  Not once in the last 3 months have I seen a family member eat a raw banana. I recently discovered that we only cook plantains, not bananas, and my host nephew is the one who eats 2 to 3 bananas a day thus depleting the banana supply.

10 Different Ways To Eat ‘Em…

  1. Patacones/Tostones

This one of my favorite ways to eat plantains. The plantain is sliced and then smashed just once.  The crushed piece is pan fried. They do not taste fried though. They are a perfect side to any meal and they are excellent with salt and a squeeze of lime juice.

patacones

  1. Chifles

This snack food is sold on every street corner in big towns.  Sliced lengthwise in thin strips or horizontally in small circles.  When sold in packages like potato chips, they can come with a lime, picante, natural, cervecero, or onion flavoring.

  1. Skillet Cooked Plantains

This is by far my favorite way to eat Guineos and Plantains. I have not seen my host mom cook these yet, but we eat them all the time. I need to ask her how she makes them. They are so sweet and delicious! I love adding a little salt on top of them, so I have the sweet and salty flavor.

skillet guineos

  1. Steamed Plantains

These come out of the pot piping hot and steaming. The yellow color is so bright when my host mom serves them. It probably has the most interesting texture, because the seeds of the banana expand and are like grains of rice.  My host mom cuts off both ends and steams the plantain inside the skin.

steamed

  1. Deep Fried Maduros

This is one of the delicacies my host mom sells at her food stand. She drops the plantains in the scalding oil with the hot dogs and potatoes. She then removes it, lightly salts it, and cu

 

ts it down the middle. If you order it with “the works”, you are getting a lot of mayonnaise and cotija cheese on top. I just order it with the cheese for now. The maduros are my favorite things she sells on the weekends.

 

  1. Green Plantain Empanadas

I have only eaten these when I was in the Amazon and they are heavenly. The outside of the empanada is made out of the green plantain dough, not corn or wheat flour. The empanada is stuffed with a cheese that melts in your mouth.

  1. Bolon de Verde

This is a ball (bolon) of smooshed green plantain, and has a surprise of queso fresco in the middle.  They can also be stuffed with meat.  First the green plantains is fried, then mashed into dough, formed into balls, stuffed.  The ball is deep fried, but the cheese doesn’t exactly melt. It is a very savory snack or side dish, and not sweet at all.

bolon de verde

  1. Jugo/Batido de Guineo

Depending on how your family makes it, they blend bananas with milk or water. My family has not made it for me so far, but many of my friends drink the jugo several times a week.

jugo de banana

  1. Grilled Plantain

This is the perfect side with grilled chicken. I ate grilled plantains again last night, and my family served me extra because they know how much I enjoy them. It has a very light sweet flavor, because the flavors do not release like when the plantain is fried or cooked in a skillet.

grilled bananas

  1. Pan de Guineo

I introduced Chocolate Chip Banana Bread to El Cabo last weekend. I think 25 people came over to the house to try what “the Suca” had cooked and they all loved it. Everyone wants the recipe.  They have never tried baking banana bread before.  It was a challenge deciding which type of banana to use for my recipe.  I will leave my mark on El Cabo as the English teacher who made sweet bread with Ecuadorian bananas.

 

ready to go
Ready to go!
oven
Starting to bake…
cooked
Cooling off…
eating
Our hard work paid off! Very chocolatey!

JuliaGrace Walker