Saturday, 25 August 2012

Elle's mini recipe: plantain chips... (in honour of Notting Hill Carnival)

First of all. If you're not listening to soca, ragga, reggaeton or calypso right now, you need to be. Try my Notting Hill Carnival playlist

Phew, that's better. So it's nearly carnival and I am like a kid in a candy store or more appropriately a 13 year old with a ghetto blaster. My friends and I have developed our ideal carnival routine over the years involving far too much rum n' ting (it's basically Lilt), packing our own toilet roll (essential), visiting all our favourite estate parties and ending up at Rampage and Norman Jay's Good Times. 

Today I can barely contain my excitement so I'm trying to get plenty of rest, not drink to save my poor liver and cook one of my Caribbean cuisine favourites: plantain chips. 

When I was in Barbados in July, we spent the first half of our vacation self-catering to earn our second half: the most indulgent week of our lives. It was fun scrimping and saving in the supermarket, knowing that the entire week’s cost would equal one night at The Cliff – the infamous best restaurant on the island (it was incredible, but not quite as good as the food at The Sandy Lane hotel).

Before leaving London and after a particularly great meal at Guanabana in Kentish town – one of my favourite local treats and deserving of its own write up soon, I swore to myself that I too would master the art form of the plantain chip.

For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), there are two types of plantain out there: green plantain and yellow plantain. No, the green ones aren’t un-ripe versions of the yellow. I cooked both when I was away and experimented with a variety of methods.

This one was the best:

Take yellow, overly ripe plantain. Slice them at a diagonal angle to make long, approximately1cm in width chips (see picture below).

Heat 2 tbs sunflower oil and 2 tbs of light olive oil in a frying pan until you can see the heat rising off it.

Meanwhile roll your chips in semolina (you can use polenta if making impromptu but I’d recommend semolina for the additional sweetening). The chips should be evenly coated all over. When you use ripe, yellow plantain they can get a little soggy so the semolina should help you to separate them as they’ll each have a dry coating.

Drop the coated chips into the pan and sprinkle some Maldon salt over them. Leave for 2 minutes until the semolina is browned and a crispy base has formed on the bottom half, then flip.

Serve fresh salsa or as a side to jerk anything. We had ours as a snack with champagne… don’t judge. On holiday anything goes.

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