Patacones

I have spent months searching for green plantains in supermarkets and green grocers across Northern Ireland for a few months and last weekend I finally found some. None of my friends had heard of plantains before; the Spaniards I asked were clueless as to them plátano is just a regular banana (something in Colombia that’s known as guineo) and in the first Caribbean store I found the lady sadly informed me that “they’re impossible to find… too expensive to import”.

So I gave up for a few weeks, but spurred on by a small spurt of sunlight I walked along Belfast’s Ormeau Road and passed the Chinese supermarket; the Irish language organization; the halal butcher; the Cantonese restaurant; the Roma community centre; the traveller support network and mass of student homes and finally found myself in front of an international store that stocked delicacies and staples from the nations of all the immigrants who have come to live in Belfast.

In among the hundreds of products that were completely alien to me I discovered a small box of large, green plantains- just what I had wanted all this time!

During my time in Colombia I had plantain nearly every day. On my way to work in the mornings I frequently grabbed a small bag of plantain-chips outside the Romelio Martinez stadium; I was served fried plantain with nearly every meal and on weekends I loved nothing more than to grab a big lunch at SAO or one of the many restaurants in Barranquilla with patacones on the side.

They are delicious with a big lunch of fish, rice, vegetables, beans and an ajiaco soup- but equally scrumptious by themselves with a pinch of salt and dash of hot sauce. This week I got the plantain, chopped it up and made my own- if it weren’t for the rain and freezing weather outside I would have almost thought I’d returned to Colombia. They were YUMMY!

pataconesRecipe

Remove the skin (best to do this with a knife).

Cut into thick stubs, about 1 or 2 inches long.

Deep fry in oil for 3-5 minutes until a light yellow colour.

Remove. Dry on paper towels.

Crush with a pan or large flat object- until they are flat, but still in one piece.

Season with some salt (lemon also if you like).

Fry again until they start to go a bit brown.

Remove from oil, dry in paper- add some sauce and ENJOY!