We’re continuing our journey through the Americas, as we discuss South America. There are 12 countries and three dependencies that make up this beautiful country.
- Falkland Islands
- French Guiana
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Take me back to 2014…
I went on a South American cruise in 2014. I visited Chile and Peru. I forgot to mention in last week’s post on México and Central America that I also traveled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I loved Costa Rica. My best memory of my time there was going on a beautiful hike at Villa Lapas Skyway.
The one thing I love most about cruises is traveling to multiple countries and cities in one trip. There were so many great memories on this trip. The one sad memory, though, was that I missed the once-in-a-lifetime excursion to Machu Picchu in Peru. I developed a head cold some days after embarking on our cruise from Santiago, Chile. The day we were scheduled to travel to Machu Picchu, I was too congested to go. I was so disappointed, but I ended up traveling the city of Lima, Peru’s capital, instead. That was very adventurous.
Some of our travel mates who visited the historic citadel reported that they were very lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated, and had difficulty breathing during the trip because of the high elevation. Some of them had forgotten to ask their doctor to prescribe them altitude medication. I had mine but never got to use it. I hope to visit Peru again in the near future and experience Machu Picchu, healthy and well.
The hightlight of the week:
This week, I made tostones, plantains that are double-fried. I bought my plantains from Mercado De La Raza, the local Latin American market in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
Plantains look like very large bananas, but they are different from the delicious fruit. The three distinctions I learned while working and cooking with plantains were:
- You can’t just easily peel a plantain like a banana, especially if the plantain is not fully ripened. The peel is tough. You need to cut both ends off and slice the ridges vertically to peel the skin off.
- When making tostones, green plantains are better to work with compared to plantains that are yellow (riped).
- Plantains, depending on their ripeness and how they’re prepared, can have completely different tastes.
I found an article that discusses the differences and similarities between bananas and plantains: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plantain-vs-banana#similarities
This article explains the difference between green and yellow plantains: https://micfood.com/green-plantains-vs-yellow-plantains-whats-the-difference/
First time trying plantains
My first time trying plantains was in 2019 at a Liberian restaurant in Fargo, North Dakota with my dearest girlfriend. It was our first time trying Liberian food. We were so excited. Everything we ordered was absolutely amazing, especially these plantains pictured below. It reminded me of a mouthwatering Filipino dish, banana lumpia. Yum!
A&E Liberian Restaurant
Fargo, ND 58102
- 2 Green plantains
- Canola oil, as needed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Mixing bowls/cups/spoons for mise en place ingredients
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Paper towel
- Cookie sheet
- Parchment paper
- Spoon (to smash plantains)
- Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
- Mise en place ingredients.
- Preheat the deep-fryer with oil to 325ºF.
- Peel the plantains and slice into 1” thick.
- Fry plantains until they start to turn golden.
- Line the pan with paper towels.
- Remove plantains from the oil and place on the paper towel-lined pan to drain excess oil.
- Allow to cool.
- Increase deep-fryer to 350ºF.
- Prepare parchment paper and put plantain slices on there one at a time.
- Use a spoon to press the plantain slices to flatten- ½” thick.
- Place flattened plantain back into the deep-fryer and fry until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined pan to drain excess oil.
- Immediately season with Kosher salt.
- Serve immediately.
Happy last week of January!