Continuing our noble culture of bringing you amazing recipes from the Indo-Caribbean regions, today we are here with the Mofongo.
A dish native to Puerto Rico, Mofongo is a vibrant, flavourful dish, with a rich legacy behind it. Not only is it the most well-known food from the island, but it is also a delightful mixture of three races and their flavours, i.e., Caribbean, African, and Spanish.
There are two ways of making this dish. One is the classic chicharrón (pork cracklings) preparation, while the other omits pork and adds a little extra garlic and olive oil, essentially making it a vegetarian dish.
With a preparation time being mere 30 minutes, speed is of vital essence here. The trick lies in heating the garlic and olive oil while the plantains are getting fried and mashing ‘em all together the moment they’re done. The stuffing can use either seafood or roast pork, and it is best served with guiso, a delicious, sofrito-scented tomato sauce.
Prep time: 30 minutes.
FOR THE GUISO:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh sofrito
- 1 cup tomato sauce
FOR THE MOFONGO:
- 4 to 6 cups vegetable oil
- 3 to 5 large garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
- 3 green plantains
- 1 ½ cups chicharrón or pork cracklings, plus more for garnish (optional)
- Lime wedges and cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Prepare the guiso. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until simmering. Add sofrito, reduce heat to medium-low and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until liquid is evaporated.
Pour in tomato sauce, partially cover with a lid, and simmer over low for 7 to 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken and darken in colour.
While sauce simmers, prepare the mofongo: Pour vegetable oil into a medium saucepan until it reaches a 3-inch depth, then heat over medium-high.
Meanwhile, crush garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a pilón or large mortar and pestle until wet paste forms.
In a separate, small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium until just simmering, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour this hot oil on top of the garlic, carefully stirring to incorporate. It’ll sizzle, and the garlic may turn light green. Add lime juice to complete the mojo.
Peel plantains by cutting off both ends, then make three lengthwise slices through the skin. Carefully pull up the peel and remove it, starting at one of the corners with the edge of your fingernail or the tip of your knife if tough, then cut the plantains into 1 1/2-inch round. (Be careful: Plantain skins will stain your hands and clothing.)
Once the vegetable oil is simmering somewhere between 350 and 375 degrees — you can test by adding a small piece of plantain; it will sizzle when the oil is hot enough — add plantains in 2 or 3 batches, taking care not to crown the pot. Fry each batch for 6 to 9 minutes, stirring lightly a few times, until the plantains begin to brown. Be careful not to let them get too dark, or they’ll be hard and dry. Use a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to transfer plantains to a towel-lined bowl.
If you have a large enough pilón, add fried plantains and chicharrón, if using, until pilón is three-quarters full. Mash together, alternating pounding and grinding. Once the mixture has condensed to about half its original size, add 1 heaping tablespoon of the prepared mojo (or to taste), and continue grinding and mashing until fully combined. The mixture will look like stuffing.
If you don’t have a pilón, combine plantains, chicharrón and mojo in a large wooden bowl. Using the bottom of a slender jar, such as an olive jar, mash together to incorporate, rotating the bowl after each mash. Pound, grind and mash until mofongo is blended.
Form the mashed mixture into 4 individual mofongos, each roughly the size of a baseball, or press into the bottom of a small rice bowl, then turn each onto a plate or into a larger bowl.
Serve immediately, garnished with extra chicharrón, lime wedges and cilantro, if you like. Spoon over guiso as desired.
Also Read: Appetising comfort food: Jamaican Beef Stew