Fried Green Plantains: Puerto Rican Tostones with Salsa Brava
This year for Spain’s version of spring break, Semana Santa (Holy Week), I skipped the processions. Instead, I flew to Puerto Rico to spend a few days exploring San Juan and working from the comfort of my suite at La Terraza San Juan and a week relaxing with my parents, my two brothers, my niece and my awesome sister-in-law at a beach house in Humacao. J., my husband, couldn’t swing the time off (he’s full-time, not freelance like moi) and so sadly missed out on all the amazing things Puerto Rico had to offer, among them lush tropical plants, historic Spanish forts in Old San Juan, fiercely sunny weather, and the tasty Caribbean eats. Fortunately for him, I love to cook and recreate the things I try abroad at home.
Since J. is a bit of a potato junkie, especially the fried sort, I decided tostones, or twice-fried green plantains would be a good place to start my trial and error Caribbean cooking sessions.
After over eight years living in Spain, I’ve become a salsa brava convert. I could eat the stuff slathered on saltine crackers, I swear—and I hate saltine crackers. So it’s not surprising, that even though in Puerto Rico I was most often served tostones with a thousand-island style sauce (aka Big Mac special sauce), I decided to sub in an easy to make salsa brava.
Recipe for Tostones
- 1 large green plantain per person.
- Coconut oil, lard or peanut oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- two plates
- paper towels
- Fill a skillet with oil and heat it on high (there should be enough oil to completely cover your plantains)
- Cut the plantain into 1 inch sections.
- Peel off the skin (since they’re unripe and it’s easier to peel after cutting into small sections, in my experience).
- When the oil is hot (bubbles are a big clue) dump in the plantains.
- Fry for five minutes on high
- Remove plantain sections from oil, and put the oil on medium heat so that it doesn’t burn.
- Place each section between two plates and smash flat.
- Return the smashed plantains or tostones to the oil for two minutes.
- Place the tostones on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil.
- Salt to taste.
Salsa Brava Recipe (makes 1 cup)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove of garlic
- ¼ cup tabasco sauce or hot sauce of choice
- ¼ cup ketchup or tomato sauce
1. Blend garlic and mayonnaise in a blender.
2. Add in tabasco and ketchup and blend until smooth.
Extra tips and Serving Suggestions
- Make a brava-esque sauce with no blender by whipping mayonnaise and garlic powder and drizzling your favorite hot sauce (I adore sriracha) over the top.
- Skip the brava sauce and serve with fresh guacamole.
- Serve as a side with burgers, fish, or Caribbean style pulled pork sandwiches.
- Make a vegan salsa brava by substituting avocado blended with fresh garlic for the garlic mayonnaise or Catalan style allioli, using only olive oil and garlic, no eggs.
- Some recipes recommend rinsing the plantains with cold water and patting them dry before frying them a second time. I didn’t notice a big difference in taste or texture, so I skipped that step.