Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Fried Plantains with Chile-Ketchup

Sometimes the strangest sounding combinations turn out to be the tastiest. Chile-Mango, Mint-Eggplant, Chocolate-Peanut Butter, Kiwi-Jam-on-Steak (oh wait, that’s not tasty!) the list goes on…

Today, the girl who doesn’t eat bananas (that would be yours truly) had a sudden and inexplicable urge to consume some plantains she had seen at the Thai market, but how to prepare them and with what?

The Rock Goddess was on her way over and I had to whip up something extra special for her discerning palate (despite her moniker here, she actually toils night and day for the swankest catering company in town…and is my hero for it) that still met my tropical fruit urges. That and a quick glance into the cupboard, was all there was behind this random concoction that had me wondering, had I gone too far? Would it be a quality combo? Turns out, it was indeed a good mix of flavors, that we ate while sipping rum and giggling over the silliness that is life in LA…and I have to say, it was simply astounding. Smoky, spicy, sweetness. Cha-cha-cha indeed.

If you want to eschew the whole frying bit, just go ahead and buy plantain chips at the market, they are crispy where these are not, but it is easier to pull off if frying isn't you bag. I liked the freshly fried myself, which are not only beautiful with the browned flecks, but the smell in the kitchen is positively heady. For the ketchup, don’t be daunted by the ingredient list, it takes less than five minutes to cook up, and if you have any leftovers, it’s fantastic mixed in with black beans, on a burger or as a glaze for poultry too. Try it and enjoy!

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small shallot, minced
1 large dried New Mexico red chile
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 cup chopped tomatoes in juice
1 ripe tomato, diced

2 large under ripe plantains
oil for frying

Grind the chiles and coriander in a mortar or spice grinder (or use pre-ground) then set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat one teaspoon of oil and add the shallot and spices and let sauté for a minute or until the shallots are just translucent. Then add the rest of the ingredients (except the plantains) stir and lower the heat. Simmer for three to five minutes, taste, adjust seasonings and remove from the heat. Will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.

Meanwhile, slice the plantains into ¼ inch slices. Heat ½ inch depth oil in a small sauce pan and sauté the plantains until golden brown (about three to five minutes) drain on paper towels, sprinkle liberally with salt and serve with the smoky ketchup.

Makes enough for four as a light appetizer.


NEW DELHI (AP) - India is the world's biggest banana grower, with an annual production of 18.52 tons, or more than 20 percent of the total world output of 80.03 tons in 2005. Bananas are the world's most exported fruit, and the fourth most important food commodity after rice, wheat and maize. India, as the worlds largest producer, had contributed significantly to the "global genetic base of bananas," said NeBambi Lutaladio, FAO's agriculture officer. The FAO is calling for a systematic exploration of the wild bananas' remaining forest habitat, to catalog the number and types of surviving wild species. The food agency, which tries to preserve agricultural biodiversity, has sought better land management in India and the introduction of wild bananas in developing new species of the fruit for cultivation.

Hatch, known as the Chile Capital of the World, lies in the fertile Rio Grande valley, some 30 mostly-arid miles northwest of Las Cruces. The tiny town is the heart of New Mexico's chile land; over 30,000 acres of the succulent pods are cultivated annually. –Southern New Mexico.com

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This looks delicious! I adore plantains, but never think to just make them myself. This one gets tossed on the "to make" pile, thank you!
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