Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fried plantains, shrimp, beans, and mango salsa

I made this dinner a while ago but am just getting to posting. The problem with posting way after you make something is that you forget the details. But for this combo, it's okay cause there's not a lot of details. This is just the thing for when you want something kinda different, but that is still really quick. The plantains are the only challenging thing - and they're easier than you think. Here's a few more details on the meal than you can gather from the title, along with a recipe for the fried plantains.

[disclaimer, I think Andy took this picture after we ate]

Dish 1: Fried plantains.
Deep frying at home can be a little intimidating, but I think it is really worthwhile every once in a while. And once you do it once, it's not intimidating. Pros to deep frying: super quick cooking method, delicious, a way better way to eat unhealthy things than drive thru fries. Cons: not so good for you, uses a lot of oil (but you can reuse it), a little tricky to get the temperature right. The only point I'll expand upon is the temperature thing - for my stove (and yours will probably be different) setting the dial right in the middle produces oil that's just about right for most applications. Fried plantains is a perfect dish to start with if you haven't fried before. Here's the recipe, it's super easy.

heavy, sturdy saucepan, or better yet, cast iron dutch oven
about 3 inches of vegetable or canola oil
2 green plantains - at the store you'll often have a choice of green, yellow, or brown. The only different is degree of ripeness. Green plantains are required for this recipe - they yield a starchy, not sweet, crispy side dish a little like french fries.
Kosher or sea salt

1. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat (about 350 degrees if you have a thermometer). Try to find the right setting so that the temperature is maintained for a while and isn't fluctuating.
2. Peel the plantains (may require a peeler, it's harder to do than a banana).
3. Slice plantains into 1.5" slices.
4. Carefully lower into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, until they appear golden yellow in color.
5. Carefully remove plantains with a slotted spoon to a few paper towels to soak up some grease.
6. When cool enough to handle, use a frying pan or clean soup can to apply pressure along the axis of the plantain and smash the piece into a disc (see picture below).
7. Now, fry again! Place the smashed plantains back in the hot oil and fry for another 2 minutes or so, till they look a deeper golden (not quite brown).
8. Remove, blot, serve immediately.

Dish 2: Quick sauteed garlicky shrimp.
I don't think I have a picture of this one, and I don't really remember the exact recipe, but the idea is quite simple. Clean some shrimp - tails on or off, your preference - blot them dry with paper towel. Heat up a skillet on high heat. Add a VERY small amount of oil - I like a kind of caramelized crust on the shrimp, which you get by adherence to the pan - so dry cooking is a good thing. Toss in the shrimp, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Stir a few times, cook till opaque. It'll take just a few minutes.

Dish 3: Leftover refried bean.
I had made a batch of refried beans according to my recipe (but had different spices and stuff on hand - so instead of roasted garlic and chipotles this one had sun dried tomatoes and some other stuff, and was made with a mix of black beans and pintos) a few days earlier.

Dish 4: Mango salsa.
Again I forget the details of this one - but the idea is simple - combine some fruit (mango) with some spicy and savory stuff. The photo is jogging my memory, I think this one had some mango, green onion, jalapeno, avocado, and cilantro. And probably a squirt of lime.

Serve everything together, along with some warm corn tortillas, hot sauce, ketchup (Andy really like ketchup with the plantains. I'm not gonna lie, I do too. Especially with a little Sriracha mixed in).

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