Mariquitas de Platános
Feeling restless, I decided to make a batch of mariquitas. Not the hard, round plantain chips sold in grocery stores, but the ribbon like crisps served with garlic mojo for dipping. Though simple enough to make at home, I could only remember having them in family style Cuban restaurants, where they’d appear ready to eat in baskets. The starter no one remembers ordering but everyone is happy to see.
Too rushed to bring out the mandolin, I used my peeler guy vegetable peeler instead to get uniform slices. Plantains were never part of his pitch but it worked perfectly. Paper thin, they crisped up right away without absorbing too much oil. Taking them out when they were still a pale yellow, they went gold in a few seconds. I added more, trying a few (and then a few more) as I worked just to make sure they were right, with each new batch a little less restless.
Mariquitas de Platános con Mojo Vinegreta/Plantain Chips with Garlic Dip
Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen: More Than 200 Classic Recipes by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz. While most recipes suggest vegetable or peanut oil which both work well, I prefer grapeseed oil for frying plantains.
2 large green plantains (no yellow spots), peeled
Grapeseed, vegetable or peanut oil for frying
For mojo vinegreta:
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cut the plantains in half crosswise. Using a vegetable peeler, pare each plantain half lengthwise in ribbon-like shavings. If not immediately frying, the shavings can be placed in a bowl and covered with cold water to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels before frying.
In a heavy skillet or deep fryer, heat 2 inches of oil over medium-high heat to 375º or until plantains slice sizzles when it touches the oil. Add the plantain slices to the oil 5-6 at a time, turning them with a slotted spoon until they are crisp, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet or the oil temperature will fall and the plantains will absorb too much oil and become soggy. Remove plantains from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve with vinaigrette.
To make the vinaigrette:
Mash the garlic with one teaspoon of salt to form a smooth paste. Using a food processor, combine the garlic paste, orange juice, and lime juice. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until smooth. The ingredients can also be mashed together in a mortar and pestle.