Plantains are a tropical fruit with a savory, mysterious flavor. They are a common staple in most Caribbean areas, including the amazing Jamaican nation. The Jamaican food-culture consists of beautifully-eclectic dishes; loved the world-over. If you would like to learn how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style, look no further. We’ve put together everything you need to know to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style to add them to your list of favorite dishes.
History of Plantains in Jamaica
Plantains are part of a family that consists of herbaceous, tropical plants: the Musaceae family. The most commonly-known member of this family is considered the banana. The plantain is longer however, has a thicker skin, a different taste, and different nutritional value than the banana.
These amazing foods have an interesting history, with its origins traced back to around 500 BC in Southeast Asia. From there, plantains made their way through trade routes to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the early 1500s (AD), plantains found their way to the Caribbean region, thanks to a Monk who had fancied the fruit and brought it with him to cultivate in the tropical region.
Jamaica, among most other Caribbean nations, use plantains in their daily diets. The plantain has become a staple in the majority of the Caribbean; though many areas or cultures may cook it differently. Plantains can be cooked and eaten a variety of ways and its popularity continues to span to newer areas, with the help of modern-day economics.
Facts about Plantains
- The plantain is not as sweet as banana in its flavor. They are often considered a more “savory” taste. Plantains also contain more starch (and less moisture) than bananas.
- Unlike a banana, plantains must be cooked before they are eaten.
- Plantains are low in fat and sodium.
- Though high in carbohydrates, plantains are loaded with magnesium, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
- Plantains’ sweetness will vary by ripeness: un-ripe plantains are green and starchy, medium-ripe are yellow and slightly sweet, and fully-ripe are mostly black and sweet.
How to Cook Sweet Plantains Jamaican Style
In Jamaica, citizens grow up eating plantains and they are one of the most common foods eaten in Jamaican households. Even children are taught how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style, since they are often eaten as a side-dish, small meal, or even a snack. In fact, many Jamaican households prepare plantains every day.
Plantains can be served by themselves, alongside meat, or even inside rice or bean-dishes. Plantains are both a food of convenience, cost-efficiency, and versatility to the people of Jamaica. In recent decades, the popularity of plantains has expanded to areas all over the globe (and it’s easy to see why). And if you want to learn how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style, read on.
- 1 ripe plantain (the riper, the better).
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon or nutmeg (or both).
- Oil (for frying).
- Begin by peeling your plantain. Do this by creating 2 incisions on opposite sides of the fruit and peel.
- After peeling, slice the plantain into coin-sized pieces. You should try to keep these slices around ¼-inch thick to ensure proper cooking.
- Put a frying pan or skillet on the stove and begin heating it up, with just enough oil to cover the slices.
- When the oil has heated up completely (should begin boiling slightly), carefully place the slices of plantain in the oil. Ensure each piece has enough room and you’re not overcrowding your pan.
- Use a spatula or slotted-spoon to stir the plantains, to ensure they do not stick to each other.
- Fry your slices for around 45 seconds-1 minute, on each side. Your plantains should become a golden-brown color. Do not overcook.
- Carefully place the cooked plantain-slices onto a heat-safe plate with napkins or paper towels, to soak up any excess oil.
- Immediately sprinkle with the cinnamon and/or nutmeg, so it sticks well.
- Let cool for a minute or two, then serve immediately. 1-2 plantains can serve 3-4 people.
Tips, Tricks, and Other Ways to Prepare Plantains
You can learn how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style, while still allowing yourself for variation.
Choice of Oil
The oil you use for instance, can be changed for dietary or personal reasons. Olive, coconut, and peanut oil all offer their own benefits and the oil you use can be a personal decision.
While learning how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style, it is essential to get your cooking-oil right. You should ensure not to put in too much oil, because plantains easily soak it up and could make it soggy. The proper amount should sit just above the thickness of your slices.
It is also important to remember to keep your heat at the proper temperature. When cooking your plantains, your stove’s heat should be on medium. Though temperature will vary by stove, it is important not to cook your plantains too quickly.
You may also switch up the options for seasoning, as cinnamon and nutmeg are considered “too strong” for some. You could try sprinkling sea salt or nothing at all as an alternative.
To ensure you have “sweet” plantains, use the ripest ones available. The color should be almost black, or entirely black, with little to no yellow spots. The riper the plantain is, the sweeter the flavor will be. They can be used as a simple side dish, but many Jamaicans add cooked plantains into dishes with meat, beans, and/or rice. The plantains offer a sweet-but-savory texture to a variety of meals.
Learning how to cook sweet plantains Jamaican style is not only easy, but quick and simple. Plantains are a healthy and delicious fruit that can be added to any meal, at any time of day. Once you try cooking these plantains for yourself, they’ll become a household favorite. Though the Jamaicans sure do have the art of taste down, feel free to personalize your plantains and make them your own.
Let us know: how do you cook your plantains?