In Miami, we’re spoiled by tostones. They’re everywhere! So when we received our first samples of the rare Hua Moa plantain, and they were green, we immediately thought of frying them up.
These revelatory tostones, which you can now make at home with Michael’s original recipe below, are just the jumping-off point. Michael, Hedy, and Bradley have all been planning our menu for Slow Food Miami’s October 26 feast, er, event to celebrate Hua Moa’s nomination into the Ark of Taste. As the not-so-secret ingredient, it will appear in no less than 11 items! There is a heritage pig from Palmetto Creek Farms involved, and of course, Hedy has brought the funk in Hua Moa desserts. More details to come on Slow Food Miami’s website. For the record, we warned you tickets would move quickly!
Hua Moa Tostones
Yields 12 to 16 tostones
I’ve had some good tostones, but never anything like this. What happens when the rare Hua Moa plantain hits hot oil is a thing of greatness. Crispy on the outside and creamy sweet on the inside. It elevates pedestrian tostones – which can be very good – to a whole new level. After testing a few different methods in the kitchen, here’s what we found to make the best. There are few ingredients, but not without specific steps to follow in order for these to come out just right.
Ingredient note: The skin of the unripe fruit is easy to remove with a quick blanch. Make one shallow slit lengthwise, just through the skin. Blanch the slit plantains in boiling water for about 1 minute or until the skin turns brown. Remove them and place in an ice bath. The skin will now be easy to peel and remove.
Hua Moa plantains are originally from southeast Asia and were carried to the South Pacific in canoes and rafts to the Marquesas Islands and then on to Hawaii. The fruit, an elongated, fat version of the common variety, grows about 6 to 11 inches in length and 3 inches or more in diameter, in bunches on 10 to 12 foot plants. It’s now cultivated by Larry Siegel in Davie, one of a handful of small growers in South Dade – the only place in the continental United States where they are found. Larry can ship his Hua Moas directly to any customers in the U.S. via his website or by phone (954.297.6677.) Also some of the Cuban fruit stands in Miami occasionally carry Hua Moas which are known to them as Platanos Hawayano. Try Palacio de los Jugos, but call first (305.264.4557.)
4 unripe (green) Hua Moa plantains, peeled and sliced into 1 ½ inch rounds
Vegetable oil for frying
Kosher salt for seasoning
Heat 4 inches of oil to 350 ºF in a countertop electric fryer or deep pot. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, a good way to test if the oil is hot enough is to stick the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick in it. If bubbles circle around the end, then you’re good to go.
Fry plantain rounds all together for about 1½ minutes or just before they start to turn golden. Remove from the fryer with a slotted spoon and transfer to an aluminum bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rounds sit for 5 minutes. Leave the oil at temperature on the stovetop.
Place one round at a time, cut side up, on the center of a lightly-oiled wooden cutting board. Using both hands on each side, take another small oiled board or flat surface and press down evenly to flatten the disc to ½ inch thick. Carefully lift the board. The plantain disc will now be about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. To remove, carefully slide a chef knife under the disc to transfer to a plate. Repeat, layering with squares of parchment paper.
Fry the discs, this time in batches of 3 or 4, without crowding, for about 2 to 3 minutes more or until golden brown. With tongs transfer plantains as fried to paper towels to drain. Season generously with salt and serve immediately, straight up.