There was a show in the Food Network a while back hosted by a gorgeous Colombian-American who was often joined by her mother in the kitchen. I can’t recall the host’s name anymore, I haven’t watched anything on the Food Network in a long time and I don’t know if the show is still on. But it was on that show where I first learned about patacones — smashed slices of green plantain twice fried until crisp and golden.
Patacones, also called tostones, is a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean countries where plantain grows in abundance. We don’t have plantain here in Asia but we have saba bananas (Cavendish). Hard, green saba bananas are sliced thinly, fried and tossed in caramelized sugar to make banana chips.
The similarity between banana chips and patacones inspired me to cook saba bananas, patacones style. The saba bananas we had yesterday were semi-ripe but still firm enough to slice, fry, smash and fry a second time.
The procedure is pretty straightforward. Peel the bananas and cut into half-inch slices. Deep fry in hot oil for a few minutes. Drain on paper towels and cool for a bit. Then, smash to flatten. I’m not sure if there is a particular tool for doing the job but I used the bottom of a shot glass and the smashing turned out perfectly. The flattened banana slices went into the hot oil once more where they fried until nicely browned. I drained them on paper towels a second time and they were ready to eat.
The result was pretty good. The outside was crisp due to the hardening of the saba’s natural sugar that caramelized during frying. But, inside, the banana was something between soft and chewy.
And here’s the really interesting thing. I sprinkled my twice-fried saba bananas with salt and the combination of sweet and salty was truly amazing. Delicious enough to make again. I’m thinking too that the same fry-smash-fry technique will also work on kamote (sweet potatoes) and that’s something I plan on trying very soon.