Hegui and I first tried tostones in Miami Beach. This was at least ten years ago! Too long. We’ve a friend in Florida who was dating this lovely Cuban man at the time. Aside from being marvelously good-natured and pleasant company, Luis also happened to be an incredible chef. He cooked for us our entire visit, and every dish was astounding. I was most amazed by his fried plantain appetizer, tostones. He served them with two toppings: one a thick green salsa with cilantro and avocado chunks; the second, some kind of tomato-based red sauce with shrimp. I was so enchanted with this dish on our visit, that I actually bought the little wooden implement to press the plantain pieces into shape for tostones.
Of course, this was the first time I ever used the device, more than a decade later. Better late than never, I guess.
I think that the plantains are supposed to be fairly green to get the crisp potato-like texture and flavor. Ours were relatively ripe. They turned a lovely golden color and became quite sweet, but didn’t crisp up at all. Not like I recall from Luis’ kitchen though very tasty nevertheless.
tostones with shrimp, poblano pepper and heirloom tomato salsa
1 cup large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
½ onion, finely chopped
½ poblano, ribs and seeds removed, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Lime wedges for garnish
Peel plantains and cut into about one inch long rounds. Fry on medium high heat until they begin to color, about five minutes. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels. Let cool then gently press into round disks.
Return to oil and fry on higher heat to crisp them. Remove from oil to plate covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
To make sauce, add olive oil to a skillet on high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add onion and poblano. Sauté until onions become translucent. Add garlic. Sauté for about a minute more. Add shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Add tomato, salt and black pepper to taste. Toss in cilantro and remove from heat. You just want the tomatoes to warm up, but not lose their shape.
To serve, place tostones on a large platter. Top with shrimp, poblano, tomato salsa. Garnish with lime wedges.