Monday, October 4, 2010

Banana Republic

Bananas are an important part of one's diet. However, many are unaware of the different varieties of bananas that are available. One of the varieties, in particular, is the plantain banana.

Plantain bananas are firmer and less sweet than "regular" bananas. They are to be eaten cooked. The fruit is starchy when unripe (green or yellow) and sweeter when fully ripe (black), as seen above. Don't worry, the black bananas have not gone bad. They are perfectly ripe for use.

Tip: To speed up the ripening process, for plantain bananas or any other fruit, place the unripened fruit in a paper bag with a "regular" banana. The "regular" banana produces more ethylene gas, the gas that ripens fruit, more so than other fruit. Your fruit will be mature faster than leaving it alone.

Still unsure of how to use plantains?  Think of these type of bananas as potatoes. You can prepare them by:
- baking
- frying
- boiling
- mashing
- making into chips
- etc.

One of my favorite ways of preparing these bananas, in a savory way, is by frying them in a little olive oil and lots of minced garlic. To it, I add sea salt, oregano and sometimes a bit of chili pepper. They are divine.

For a sweeter version, follow the instructions below.

- Peel your ripened plantain banana (You may need a knife to cut through the tough outer skin.)
- Slice your banana into discs, as seen below

- In a non-stick frying pan, melt approximately 1 tablespoon of salted butter with approximately 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Tip: Even one drop of oil in melted butter will prevent it from burning.

- Lay your banana pieces in the melted butter mixture
- Do not crowd the pieces

- Cover the top with a dusting of granulated sugar or vanilla sugar (Please click here for my entry on how to make your own vanilla sugar.)

- Flip your banana pieces over when the bottoms become golden brown and speckled with black spots.  They should look like this:

- Continue to cook the other side to the same consistency

These saucy beauties are buttery on one side and crispy sweet on the other.

I don't even bother serving them with anything, except a fork. If you can resist yourself from eating them straight from the frying pan, you could serve them:
- over ice cream
- with fresh roti
- in crepes

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