I love plantain chips and guacamole SO MUCH that often times I'm not even interested in eating guacamole with plain old tortilla chips. I know, right? It's a seriously obsessive commitment to plantains. Behind our old apartment in Fremont, there is this Mexican restaurant - El Camino. I'm sure I've talked about this place before. El Camino is notorious for providing deliciously spicy food, comedic service, a vibrant atmosphere, and margaritas that will knock you off your feet. Just ask my sister. We have this rule when we go to El Camino, one margarita is plenty. Two, and you'll wake up with a headache. Three, and you'll be puking for sure. I remember a few particular evenings when I learned this the hard way.
Besides the killer margaritas, El Camino serves the most amazing guacamole and plantain chips. It was the first place I'd ever tried them, and then again here, and then my mind was made up. Plantain chips are the perfect medium for guacamole. Before this post, I never thought of making my own plantain chips from scratch. But now that El Camino is not straight out our back door, and the fact that while pregnant I am refusing to step inside any establishment that serves my favorite margaritas, I had to cure this intense craving somehow.
I went to the Asian Grocers a few weeks back. I saw a box of plantains in the produce section, and while Cinco de Mayo was right around the corner, I thought that it would be the perfect time to attempt making plantain chips at home. I bought the plantains, put them in the vegetable crisper, and then forgot about them for almost two weeks, which is what I do. Luckily, I was feeling extra ambitious last week, because those plantains were on their last legs.
I'm always a little hesitant when preparing anything that involves deep fat frying. I'm not afraid of the oil or anything, I am just not that enthusiastic with the whole process - using so much oil, smelling like grease, trying to figure out what to do what that 2 cups of oil after, cleaning the pan, the stove, my face, etc. So, I have to be in a particularly energetic and enthusiastic mood to deep fry. Some of you are thinking, why not bake in the oven? and if we are being completely honest, I always prefer foods that are fried over baked - doughnuts, french fries, popcorn shrimp. It must be my British roots.
To make these chips, you heat two cups of oil in a large frying pan until hot. You thinly slice the plantains using a mandoline. It's the only way. You will have to fiddle with the settings and adjust the thickness similar to a tortilla chip. Unfortunately, my mandoline doesn't have measurements, so I can't accurately describe the thickness I used, but it was similar to a tortilla chip. If the plantains are splitting and you just can't seem to get whole strips, increase the thickness. Once you have your plantains sliced, you can place a few at a time in the hot oil. If you crowd the pan, they will all stick together. Fry them until crispy. Once the plantains are cooked, you can prepare the guacamole using my easy method. Throw all of your ingredients into a large bowl, and smash them together with a spoon. So easy, so delicious.
PLANTAIN CHIPS AND GUACAMOLE
serves 3 - 4 as an appetizer
2 cups oil
2 large plantains
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 2 limes
In a large frying pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat.
Peel the plantains. Cut them in half. Thinly slice lengthwise with a mandoline, to the thickness of potato chips. Place a few pieces of plantain, enough to not crowd the oil, in the frying pan, and fry until crispy and light brown, approximately 4 minutes. Place the cooked plantains onto a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle with salt. Continue frying the rest of the plantains.
In a bowl, smash together the avocado, garlic and lime juice. Season with salt. Serve with the plantain chips.