I have always been a sucker for plantain, in fact my wife believes its almost an addiction! Born to Nigerian parents and a culture where plantain is enjoyed with so much relish that regardless of the quantity of plantain on offer it will always be the first dish to run out. I am yet to see plantain left over from any Nigerian party or social event. Plantain is consumed in its many forms which I will mention later in this post, but the form I have the weakest spot for is plantain chips. For many years, I made my plantain chips from green plantain, only to discover the end result was not as delicious as anticipated because at this stage it is still unripe and the sweetness is yet to be fully developed, so I tried making my chips from firm just-ripe plantain that has turned from green to yellow and hey presto! Finally found the winning formula. Although plantain is now widely available in most supermarkets, many people aren’t aware of it. So, for those who don’t know yet, what is plantain?
Plantain is similar to a banana in its appearance (albeit a bigger version) it is grown mainly in tropical regions of the world such as Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Central and South America. unlike bananas it is quite starchy, and becomes sweeter as it ripens, just like bananas do. The best plantain chips are achieved when the turns yellow, it may still show green pigmentation. However, if completely yellow it should still be firm with a little black pigmentation carried through from when it was green. As a guide, if there is more black pigmentation than yellow, then this is an indication the plantain is too ripe for plantain chips, but okay for other means of consumption.
Think of everything you can do with a potato….., the same applies to yellow plantain. It can be roasted on a barbecue, boiled or baked in an oven. It is delicious fried and eaten with rice dishes, as well as bean dishes and is called “Dodo” (doedoe) in the Yoruba language. There is also a mouth-watering version and a favourite of mine called “Dodo Ikire” which is made out of mashed overripe plantain and dried crushed red pepper, moulded into round balls and fried finger-liking-good and takes me way back to my childhood. So, you can see this is a very versatile fruit.
Now back to plantain chips. I find this snack more indulging and moorish than potato crisps and an added bonus they are healthier! They are so easy to make that I am baffled now as to why I bought those small packs at almost £1 when I could get almost ten times the quantity if I made it at home. I have taken these plantain chips into work and my colleagues absolutely love it, in fact they cannot get enough of it. Try this snack on your guests and you may have trouble keeping them away. The amazing thing is that no sugar or salt is required as it just tastes delicious on its own. Plantain could also be found in most Afro-carribean food shops.
Plantain chips will normally stay fresh and crispy in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks
So, what will I need to make my plantain chips?
- A small kitchen knife to peel the plantain from the skin
- Grater with a slicing side or you could use the slicer attachment on your food processor
- Deep fryer or a deep-frying pan with vegetable oil
- Firm yellow plantain looking like the image above
- Sieve to drain the oil from the fried plantain chips
- A sealed container to store the fried plantain chips once cooled
- Heat the vegetable oil to between 140c (285F) and 150c (300F)
- Peel the plantain and use the grater to slice the plantain directly into the oil (This is hazardous and should be supervised if a child is involved). As a safety precaution slice in the plantain into the oil at an angle away from the fryer instead of directly positioning the grater over the fryer.
- Use the spatula to turn the plantain chips over after 3 minutes and fry for a further 3 minutes until turned golden.
- Once a golden colour has been achieved like the image above use a spatula to transfer the chips to a sieve or kitchen paper to drain the oil
- Once drained, leave to cool completely (this is where I begin to exercise my taste buds) and transfer to a sealed container.
- If you are frying large batches, turn down the heat when slicing in a new batch, and turn it up after you finish slicing, this prevents the high heat burning your hands
- Do not seal the chips in the storage container whilst warm as it will go soggy
- When removing the chips from the oil it might still be soft, don’t worry as they will harden when cooled.
- Slicing the plantain chips directly into the oil prevents the chips from sticking together. if taking an alternative approach by slicing into a bowl before transferring to the oil, make sure you spread the chips evenly in the pan.
- Try to avoid frying too many chips at any one time as it will take longer to fry and may not yield the best result. I normally fry 1 plantain at a time
- If for any reason your plantain chips become soft while stored, just place the chips on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 160c (320F). It will come out soft whilst hot, but will harden and become crispy within a few minutes upon cooling.
- Plantain is not very pleasant when eaten raw, so it is not advisable.