Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fried Plantains (Memories of days spent on the Island of St. Lucia)

St. Lucia:

I spent some time in the West Indies on the Island of St. Lucia back in the 70's. I was growing out of my Hippy stage. Maybe it was the end of that era in my life, or maybe not. We were quite carefree on the island. Anyway, I experienced the culture and the food of the West Indies and a few memories have remained with me.
I stayed in a house on the side of the mountain. There were no actual windows in the house. It was an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea.
Just off the opened living area were many Cashew trees. It was the first time I had ever seen them. We had a cook that would arrive everyday and plan meals for us. It was the first time I had experienced fried Cashew Nuts. He would cook them in coconut oil , salt them and serve them hot. The taste was incredible.
He taught me how to climb a coconut tree and I have a picture of that experience somewhere in my thousands of photographs of my worldly travels. I may have to post that someday so that my grandchildren will know that I wasn't just telling them a crazy story.
The chef would shave strips of fresh coconut and fry them in coconut oil. They were an afternoon snack served with a traditional St. Lucian cocktail.
The last food that I experienced for the first time was a fried Plantain.
Prior to that trip, I had never even seen a Plantain.
He would slice them, fry them, smash them and refry them, salt them and serve them as a chip for another afternoon snack.
I absolutely loved all of the new foods that I experienced.
I continued to make these items when I returned home from the island.
I never really had a recipe for the Plantains but I had my memories of watching the chef prepare them.
My children and grandchildren recently took a trip to Puerto Rico. It's another island that loves Plantains. As they were describing the foods that they experienced on the island, it brought back memories of St. Lucia. I was especially interested that they had eaten Fried Plantains and liked them.

Here is my recipe for Fried Plantains as I remember them:
I hope some of my readers will make this recipe and create a new food memory.

4 green plantains
vegetable oil ( on the island it was always coconut oil)

Peel and slice the Plantains on an angle 1/4" to 1/2"
Preheat the oil in a cast iron skillet
In small batches, fry the slices for 2 - 3 minutes on each side
Remove, drain on paper towels ( they drained them on pieces of brown paper bags)
Use a meat mallet ( or whatever you have on hand that would smash a Plantain ) I use a stainless steel measuring cup, smash them to 1/8"thick
Place them back in the oil and fry 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy.
Drain again and sprinkle them with sea salt
I've included a dipping sauce recipe, but you can just eat them without it if you choose.

Mojo Sauce :

1/4 C olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS finely chopped cilantro, parsley or rosemary... etc. ( whatever herb you have available).
Salt to taste

Combine oil and garlic in a saucepan
Heat on low for about 5 minutes
Remove from heat
Place in a serving bowl
Add herbs and salt
Dip the crispy Fried Plantains in the sauce

Here's another sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce ;
This one comes from Bhutan, a country in the Himalayan Mountains.

1/3 C olive oil 
2/3 C sour orange juice (or half and half regular orange juice and lime juice)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1/2 tsp cumin, ground 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper 

Prepare the same as the previous sauce.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Vintage slides
of St. Lucia:
the rough side of the island

this may be the island of Filicudi off the coast of Sicily.
Oh Well, another story , another time!
That was definitely a Hippy experience during
my many travels!

one of the grand pitons

the view from the opened living space in the house

I salted them with my Rosemary infused Sea Salt

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