El Salvador, Plátanos Fritos and Me….

In Nigeria, we call it Dodo.

IMG_1259No, silly….. not the bird, I’m talking about fried plantains and please don’t ask me why we call them that, ’cause I don’t know the history!

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When I was at school, as a girl…..in the 80’s, I loved Geography. I made top grades in Geography. But obviously the theoretical aspects :-).

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Fast forward to 2009 and I could be likened to certain females who don’t know country from continent.

IMG_0787The only place I’ve been to in Africa is Nigeria and that doesn’t count, does it? I mean, I am Nigerian. Born, Bred and still am.

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I must confess that my geography of the world is rather limited, though serious progress has been made. I mean, I more or less know which countries border which in (most parts of) Africa, all that learnt in the last year.

IMG_1195And so when I saw this announcement at Souvlaki for the soul, about Joan’s 13 week 2010 South American Culinary Tour, I signed up straight away for these reasons:

  1. Improve my ‘handicap’ in Geography;
  2. Know a bit more about food culture and cuisine across South America;
  3. Investigate similarities between Nigerian cuisine and South American (you’ll see why as we go along!); and
  4. Cook and eat….of course!!!!!!!!!

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Joan suggests that we adopt a ‘chef’s-choice’ approach to the tour. To quote, our dishes can be:Foodalogue

  • Traditional – recreate the country’s national dish or any other traditional dish.
  • Contemporary – use a traditional recipe and make it Nuevo Latino (contemporize it).
  • Algo Nuevo (something new) – create something totally ‘your own’ by using the flavors and techniques of the destination.
  • Published Chef – follow the recipe of a published chef/author specializing in that cuisine.

She says, ‘I think this opens the challenge up to all sorts of interesting interpretations.

Please tell us which category your dish falls into…sort of like when the Chairman’s nephew on Iron Chef says please tell us your inspiration…“.’

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My plan is to use this opportunity to make a variety of dishes – including desserts, drinks and snacks. I have included my ‘planned recipes’, all things being equal so you know what to expect:

The Itinerary (Posting Dates).

  • January 11, Mexico: I missed it!
  • January 18, El Salvador: Platanos fritos tortillas – Breakfast/Main – this post
  • January 25, Nicaragua: Horchata, a type of…. – Drink
  • February 1, Argentina – Pizza or empanadas
  • February 8, Brazil: Acaraje – Snack/Main
  • February 15, Colombia: not yet decided
  • February 22, Jamaica: Jerk Fish with creole sauce – Main
  • March 1, Haiti: not yet decided
  • March 8, Cuba: not yet decided
  • March 15, Puerto Rico: not yet decided

According to Wikipedia,

El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally meaning “Republic of the Savior”; original name in Nahuatl was Cōzcatlān) is the smallest and also the most densely populated country in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras and is affectionately called the “Tom Thumb of the Americas” (“Pulgarcito de America”).

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Also according to the wiki, one of the most popular Salvadoran breakfasts is Fried Plantain (Plátanos Fritos), usually accompanied with beans, cream, and cheese.

IMG_1130Plantains are basically cooking bananas – the Dutch and others call them Bakbanen. They are never eaten raw (except you’re me, and many others who munch on slices of them en route the frying pan!).

Did you know that Bananas and Plantains are always picked green? Interestingly, they don’t start ripening till they’re harvested, which is why you’ll often find both green and yellow ones on the shelves.

In Nigeria, we eat fried plantains in a variety of ways – sliced thinly to form plantain crisps (Kpekere) or ‘regular’ slices (Dodo), eaten on its own or also with beans, though sans cream and cheese!

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I chose this recipe because I have promised myself that this year, while doing everything else, I will showcase more of my Nigerian roots. My take more Algo Nuevo (I think) as I’ve decided to serve it all ‘wrapped up’!

IMG_1157Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Platanos Fritos in a tortilla, with ‘Doritos’ salsa

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For the Plantanos Fritos Tortilla

Serves 4 – 6

4 – 6 wheat tortillas
Plantanos Fritos (made from 2-3 plantain fingers)
Salsa
1/4 of an Iceberg lettuce, washed and shredded
Coriander leaves and stems, torn
To serve
Sour cream

Warm tortillas according to instruction on the pack

Place some salsa in the centre of each tortilla and spread out with a spoon. Top with some ice berg lettuce and coriander leaves and finish off by adding  some whole/sliced plantanos fritos and rolling up into a cone.

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Serve like this….or….

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Roll into a cylinder and use skewers to hold it closed.

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Cut into rings to form lollipops.

IMG_1271Enjoy with sour cream and a glass of something cold and refreshing.

For the Platanos Fritos

Ripe plantains (plátanos maduros)
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Salt (optional)

How to

Heat about 3-4 cm of oil in a pan over medium heat.

Slice the plantains open and halve length ways and cross ways to yield 4 pieces.

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Salt if necessary.

When the oil has wamed up (such that an onion ring fries in 30 – 40 seconds), add the plantains, a few pieces at a time, and fry till one side is golden.

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Turn and let the other side brown.

Remove and place in a colander/sieve lined with paper towels.

When ready to use, leave whole or slice.

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For the ‘Doritos’ Salsa

Now, I call this ‘Doritos salsa’ because around 1999, I bought a jar of Doritos salsa dip, read the ingredients list, wrote it down in my ‘kitchen address book’ and have repeated it ever since. Now though it didn’t specify the quantities, I’ve worked out my own formula, which I love…..sweet, with some heat and a peculiar flavour from the green paprika.

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Ingredients

3 tablespoon vegetable oil
300g fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 large red onion, chopped into chunks
1/2 a green bell pepper/paprika, cut into chunks
2-3 small chilli peppers (or to taste), chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I used some homemade blackberry wine vinegar)
1 – 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1/2 a teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 a teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 a teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper, to taste
IMG_0744How to

Heat oil in medium sized saucepan.

IMG_0761When hot, add chopped tomatoes, onions, paprika, chilli peppers and garlic. Salt to taste and let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes till the vegetables are soft.

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Add the tomato puree, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and the spices and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

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Adjust seasoning to taste – the aim is to have a balance between sweet, rich and peppery.

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Yields about 2 1/2 cups

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So, there, I’ll tell you the top 3 things I learnt:

  1. Where El Salvador is on the map;
  2. The similarities in world cuisines; and
  3. …I need to make this salsa more often. It rocks…..

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My husband LOVED it – especially since he viewed it as a ‘Nigerian-style meal’, with a twist.

Daughter #2 was out on a play date but #1 had it for lunch…and dinner and tomorrow, its going in her lunchbox. For her, I cut it into little rolls and skewered them…a bit like lollipop sticks!!!!!!!!

I loved the wrap, the colours, the flavours, textures and the chance to develop a recipe :-).

I am really looking forward to sharing my Horchata recipe from Nicaragua, next week Monday. Come back please for a taste of some!

IMG_1252And feel free to head on over to Joan’s to join the tour….or watch! X X X

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[wpurp-searchable-recipe]El Salvador, Plátanos Fritos and Me…. – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

59 Comments

  1. […] We eat a lot of rice at home (in Nigeria) and I’m always in search of ways to jazz it up. So far, my tastiest rice recipes involve…coconut milk and this recipe is no exception. Rice, kidney beans and fragrant lemon thyme – a warming meal on any night of the week. We also have rice and brown-eyed beans a lot in Nigeria, mixed together or separate. Often, we serve this with bananas or plantains. […]

  2. Ozoz- DODO!! oh my, oh my! you brought back such memories- memories of Lagos- coming back from school and begging the driver to stop in the round about near the shopping centre in Ikoyi to buy some fried dodo. i loved the way you took us through the steps in your photos-i can just eat the red chili raw! hope the new year is treating you well, ozoz. x shayma

  3. I can see that I’m going to enjoy your learning experience. This of course looks fabulous. I have not had fried plantains since I was a girl and we had some Dutch school friends who made them for us. I guess it time to get cooking.
    Mimi

  4. Oh, what a great idea with those South American recipes. I love this type of food… have been to few countries you mentioned and I would eat anything with plantains 🙂 Especially mofongo in Puerto Rico and in Mexico practically anything that is not with red meat that I don’t eat.

    I’m looking forward to see next posts 🙂

    Have a nice evening!

  5. Greg – pantacones…love the way it sounds!

    Thanks Barbara and Debi

    Tangled Noodle – 🙂 thanks….I LOVE the tour. I guess I’m super fascinated at what I’ve always considered as ‘our’ food being eaten the world over in a variety of delicious ways!

    Wizzy dear….don’t worry about the lumping! We love Jamaica and I guess its more of culinary grouping – similar (ish) flavours….and textures…yum!

    Unplanned cooking – I LOVE you Jennifer and I will move over…as soon as the kids grow up, get married and all the rest but I’ll be coming for the shopping tour ASA!!!!!

    Sophia…thanks and yes, it was on Tastespotting!! Yah, looking forward to the roasted plantains, which in Nigeria, we call bole (pronounced like the mexican mole…with a b)

    Natasha – thanks and so sorry to hear about your disaster. Mwah…looking forward to the next stop!

    Alysha dear….what can I say. Thanks. We should have a Daisy international day – looking forward to saturday!

  6. Wow oz your getting quite a following. I love food that is all wrapped. I will definitely try this one. Maybe we should have a international food day with our Daisy’s….

  7. Your tortilla with fried plantains sounds absolutely delicious and looks so gorgeous! What a wonderful meal for Joan’s tour! I was going to do a Salvadorian dessert but it ended up being a disaster 🙁 Hope I’ll see you on the next stop.

  8. Holy plantains! That looks FABULOUS!!! I’m pretty sure I saw your picture on Tastespotting, too….CONGRATS!

    I’ll be roasting some plantains myself soon…Tee hee, it’s a surprise dish I’ve got planned up!

  9. Well, if you want to hop on a plane, you can come visit me and I could introduce you to the Mall of America. Of course you would have to cook in exchange. And maybe write my blog for me, but we can iron out the details later.

  10. OMG I love fried plantains! I try not to have them too often as they can be addictive and all that oil just sits tooo happily on my hips. Such a nice idea the South American Cooking Tour. The only thing though is that I am fairly certain that Jamaica is not a South American country! Americans tends to lump Caribbean islands under the category of South or Central America and it is somewhat annoying to us West Indians

  11. I could just stare at these delicious photos all day long (although, as I get hungrier, it might be best if I actually tried making this dish, too!) Joan’s South American culinary adventure sounds like such fun and I think your idea to tie it into discovering similarities and differences with Nigerian cuisine is absolutely fantastic! I look forward to seeing more. 😎

  12. We’ve spent a lot of time in the Caribbean and I can tell you that plantains are our very favorite thing to eat!
    I love the look of your wrapped plantains!

  13. Thanks peachkins and double comments are very welcome!!!!!!

    Sarah – try them at least once!!!!!!

    Rebecca – I’m really enjoying the challenge of the tour

    Thanks Zurin……we ARE adventurous!

    Let me know how it goes Magda – I like them!

    Kevin….try them when you can, they’re as easy as making
    chips!

  14. Kristin – thanks for the tips. Will do some more research to flesh that out – watch this space!

    Joan – thanks. I’m enjoying it so much. Good on you for organising it!!!!

    Sook – Thanks, I did enjoy it, Next time I’ll oven bake the plantains

    Kerstin, I KNOW you love plantains…. still have to try some of your super great ideas. Thanks!

    Oyster culture – yay. Glad you like plantains….

    Dave – thank you!

    The Ungourmet, Angie – thanks!

    Kate – we aim to please and make hungry…..

    Mowie – mwah…..one day, I’ll have to cook up a mini storm for you…with all your Naija favourites!

    HH, wow. You never cease to amaze and make me laugh>

    Jeanne dear – I’ll have to think of how to make you change your mind…..with plantains at least!

    Simply Life, Maria – thanks

    Beth, I am always amazed at how people and food differ….I almost never have plantains outside home :-). Life is so interesting and they are super easy to make, just like frying chips!

    Conor, I’m beaming….thank you.

    Thanks Bethany dear….

    Mary Moh…is there a place on this planet where you can’t find plantains – what a travesty! Will find out for you ok?

    Blond Duck – my plan is to correct this great transgression of never having had Mac n Cheese – watch this space

    Tracy, FWS, thanks.

  15. That’s such a delicious wrap. A big surprise to me to use plaintain. Never thought of that. But it has to be good. I love plaintain. Used to eat a lot of this when I was back home. Sadly can’t find it here.

  16. I really love plantains–there are lots of central and south american bodegas/restaurants around here that sell them and they are one of my favorite treats. Never thought of making them at home though!

  17. GReat post! I loved reading it and look forward to reading your upcoming articles.
    And the food looks amazing. Great techniques and beautiful photos!

  18. Such an interesting post – and yes, I am with you, I am rubbish at pinpointing countries on a map, especially in South America!! never tried plantains as I don’t like bananas, but yr recipe makes me wonder if I’m missing out… 😉

  19. Damn, this looks so good. I want it! Only problem is HH doesnt deep fry after an unfortunate oil fire… ;)… nobody was harmed LOL. Maybe i can ask my mother in law to make this for me. She is Kenyan (but is actually Pakistani) and has made me some great African goodies, my favourite being fried cassava.

  20. YUM! This is NOT the thing for me to be reading before breakfast…

    I’m also looking at your photos, hon. Your color sense is wonderful–look at the golden orangey-brown plantians with the (complementary) blues. Beautiful.

  21. Oh what fun – I love picking a country and then developing a recipe, what a great way to learn geography, and that recipe looks delicious, but I confess to a weakness for plantains. Absolutely yummy!

  22. For Cuba you should do black beans with pork or A cuban sandwich! Also there is a beef dish, Vaca something that is really good! LOL

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