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Tostones are sliced plantains that are fried twice and served with salt, cheese, a dipping sauce or a pickled pepper mixture. They are a delicacy in many Central and South American countries, as well as in the Caribbean islands. Haitians call them banan peze, and in South America they are also known as patacones. Some West African countries also serve tostones under the name plantain crisps. No matter what the name, the recipe stays basically the same in any culture.
To make tostones, an unripe plantain is peeled, then sliced. The slices can be short, 1 inch (2.54 cm) strips, or they can be sliced diagonally or length-wise. Then the slices are dropped into some kind of cooking oil. They are fried on each side for a couple of minutes.
Once they are fried once on each side, they are removed from the oil and pounded flat. This can be done with any kitchen utensil, but it is common to find a tostonera, which is a utensil specifically designed for tostones. This step can also be performed with a glass or small plate. They should be flattened until they are about 1/3 inch (0.84 cm) high.
After they are pounded flat, they are fried once again on each side until they are golden brown. The slices are then removed from the oil, drained and served. Some cultures will soak them in salted water for about an hour before drying and then frying them.
When the tostones are ready, they will be golden and crisp. They are often salted and eaten like potato chips. Tostones are frequently served hot with a mojo sauce, which is a garlic sauce used for dipping. Haitians will sometimes serve them with a traditional pickled pepper relish called pikliz or alongside griot, which is fried pork. They can also be topped with melted cheese as an appetizer.
Though there is no botanical difference between a banana and a plantain, plantains are typically less sweet than the bananas people normally eat, which are sometimes called dessert bananas. They are still green and firm at the time they are peeled, sliced and fried to make tostones. The word banana has come to be associated with a ripe, soft, sweet fruit, rather than the unripe, tougher plantain.
The word tostones comes from the Spanish verb tostar, which translates to the verb toast. The dish is known as tostones in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. It is known as patacones in Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Venezuela and Colombia.