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What Are Tostones?

By Kathy Heydasch
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By myharley — On Dec 30, 2011

There are more things you can do with plantains besides slicing them and frying them. I love to eat tostones, but also like mofongo.

This is a dish which has mashed plantains that includes ingredients like seafood, meat and vegetables mixed in with the plantains.

If you order this in a restaurant in Puerto Rico, it will usually come served with beans and rice. If you want to try some local food, this is one you will see on most every menu.

A lot of times I will pour some chicken broth over it. This makes it juicy and it doesn't taste as dry. The mashed plantains are similar in texture to mashed potatoes.

Garlic is very commonly used when these are made because it complements the taste so well. Plantains are a versatile food, with many choices of spices and sauces used to fix them. Most people would be able to find a way to enjoy the taste of them one way or another.

By sunshined — On Dec 30, 2011

@SarahSon - I love tostones and make them quite often. If you are going to be using them right away, you don't need to let them soak in water before frying.

You only need to do this if you are not going to cook them right away. They will turn brown, much like an apple or banana does after they are cut.

I like very simple toppings for my plantains and this is usually a little bit of garlic salt or oil. My husband likes ketchup on his, but that is not appealing to me at all.

If you want to add more substance you can even top them with some shrimp.

I like to eat plantains as a snack by themselves, or serve with a meal in place of rice or potatoes.

You can also use very ripe plantains if you want them to taste a little bit sweeter. They don't need to cook as long, but have a little bit different taste than the unripe ones.

By SarahSon — On Dec 29, 2011

I have never tasted a plantain, but have seen them often in the grocery store.

This sounds like a simple food that would be very tasty. It also sounds like it could be a good alternative to potato chips, depending on what kind of dipping sauce you would use. If you smothered them with cheese it might not be the healthiest snack for you.

Even when eating fried plantains, an unripe banana would be healthier for you than a potato. It sounds like most plantain recipes are pretty much the same, but what are some good dipping sauces people have used?

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