Tostones & Mofongo (A Green Plantains Primer)
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Tostones and mofongo are probably the most common green plantains recipes in Puerto Rico. There is a lot in common between these recipes so we thought we would include them both in the same post. Now, you can certainly try them at different times and we assure you that you will love them both!
Tostones (~15 pieces):
3 green plantains
oil for frying
4 cups water
2 tbs adobo
Mofongo (for 1 person):
1 green plantain
oil for frying
1 tbs butter (softened)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp adobo
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 tbs ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp adobo
When shopping for plantains to use for tostones and mofongo, make sure you pick ones that are really green. As plantains age, they’ll start to get big black spots on them, so if possible try to avoid those.
Start by cutting off the ends of the plantain. Then, take a small paring knife place your thumb about ¼ inch away from the knifes point--obviously being careful not to cut yourself. Then run your thumb along the surface of the plantain, lengthwise, making about a ¼ inch incision.
The idea here is to cut the plantain’s thick skin, while leaving the meat undisturbed. Once you’ve cut through the skin, you should be able to use your hands to peel away the thick skin, in large pieces. Some people might find digging into a plantain with their fingers uncomfortable, so feel free to use a spoon or butter knife to pry open the skin, so you get a better grip.
Speaking of uncomfortable, the plantain’s sap can be very sticky, so be careful not to get it on your clothes as you are working with the plantains. Also, if you’d rather not get the sticky sap on your hands, you can rub a little oil on your hands first.
Me? I like the mancha del platano, so I’m not worried about it.
Once you’ve peeled your plantains, go ahead and cut them into pieces that are about an inch and a half long. You want to try and make your pieces all about the same size, so the cook evenly when you are frying them. This first step of peeling and cutting the plantains is the same for tostones and mofongo.
Once you have your plantains peeled and cut, it’s time to fry them. Fill a large, heavy pot with oil and heat it up to around 285 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get it too much hotter than that, you’ll end up browning the plantains before they are fully cooked. You want to use enough oil to cover at least two-thirds of the plantains. This way, you know you’ll get the whole plantain cooked, while only needing to flip it once.
Once your oil is up to temperature, gently place the plantains into the oil, being careful not to splash it on you. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when your plantains start to bubble as soon as you drop them into the oil.
As you are adding the plantains to the oil, you want to make sure to leave a little space in between each piece. This way, the oil will be able to circulate freely, ensuring that you’ll cook all parts of the plantain evenly.
Once all of your plantains are in the oil, fry them for six minutes on one side, then flip the plantains and fry another six minutes on the other side.
Once the 12 minutes are up, you should be able to easily stick a fork through your plantain pieces. At this point they are done and you can pull them out of the oil, letting them drain on a piece of paper towel.
Now on to the tostones. To make these, you are going to take your cooked plantain pieces, flatten them into discs and re-fry them in hot oil, ending up with perfectly crisp rounds.
Start by oiling the surface you’ll use to smash your plantains. This is just to prevent the tostones from sticking. Then, one-by-one, place your cooked plantains on the flat surface and squash them into discs, between 1/4in and ½ inch thick, depending on how crunchy you want your tostones to be - the thinner the disc, the crispier they will end up.
Puerto Ricans have a specific tool for this step, a tostonera. But if you don’t have a tostonera at home, I find that a small glass dish or bowl with a flat bottom works perfectly fine and you have the added advantage of seeing how thin you are making your tostones.
Once all your plantains are flattened, you are ready to give the tostones their second fry.
For this second round of frying, we want to bring the oil up to 350 degrees Farenheit. This way, the tostones will be golden and crispy when they are done frying.
In preparation for this second fry, we also want to add some seasoning to the tostones. Now you could try and sprinkle salt onto your tostones after you’ve fried them, but this doesn’t work so well and generally the salt just falls off. Puerto Ricans are all too familiar with this flavoring conundrum, and have come up with an ingenious solution.
In a bowl, mix together a brine of water and adobo, being careful to whisk out any big clumps.
So once you have your brine, one by one, dunk the tostones into it, shake off any excess water, and place the tostones into the hot oil. Fry the tostones for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on both sides, flipping if needed.
Once cooked, remove from the oil and let dry on some paper towel.
Let’s move on to our second dish, mofongo. To make mofongo, we’ll take our fried plantains, and rather than flattening and re-frying them, like we did for tostones, we are going to smash them into a paste, that we’ll flavor with butter, garlic, and adobo.
First, prepare your flavoring. Combine softened butter, minced garlic, and adobo in a small bowl. Next take your fried plantains and begin smashing them. Here, I’m using a pilon, which is a wooden mortar and pestle, traditionally used to make mofongo. It’s one of my favoring kitchen tools, and you may recognize it from our logo.
But if you don’t have one, no worries. We’ll also show you how to make mofongo with more traditional kitchen tools. I like to start, by smashing half of the plantains I’m going to use. Once those have been broken down, add half of your butter mixture and keep smashing all of it together. Once its starting to get smooth, add the remaining plantains and smash them as well. Finally, add the remaining butter mixture, and keep working the whole thing until smooth.
You’ll know the mofongo is ready when it has the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes. You don’t want there to be large pieces of plantain still in the mix, but you also don’t want this to look like you ran it through a blender, as it can start to get gummy.
Once your mofongo is ready, some people like to serve it out of the pilon. This is very traditional, and a great option if you have a million pilons lying around. Like normal people, I only have one, so I usually serve my mofongo on a plate. A nice way to present it is to pack the mofongo into a bowl, then turn it out onto a plate and garnish it with a little cilantro or oregano, or whatever other herbs you have lying around. As I mentioned, you don’t need a pilon to make mofongo. An easy approach I’ve learned from times I’ve made mofongo away from home, is to just use a bowl and a cup to smash your plantains. I like to use a plastic cup for this, so I don’t have to be worried about breaking it as I smash the plantains.
As in the pilon, add half of your plantains to the bowl and start smashing them. Then add half of your butter mixture, continuing to work it all together. As that gets smooth, keep adding the remaining plantains a butter, smashing it all together until it reaches the right consistency.
Once smooth, spoon your mofongo into a bowl and pack it all in. Then loosen the mofongo, and turn it out onto your serving plate and add a little garnish. With our Tostones and Mofongo ready to go, the next thing we need to do is make our dipping sauce.
Mayoketchup is Puerto Rican’s preferred dipping sauce, and we use it for just about everything, from tostones and mofongo, to french friends and chicken tenders.
As you may have guessed from the name, Mayoketchup is predominantly a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup. But Puerto Ricans like to spice this up with minced garlic and adobo.
Add mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic and salt into a bowl and mix until well combined.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.