Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Riz et Pois Rouges, Bannann Pezi, et Ti Malice

While in Haiti, I remember eating Bannann Pezi--fried plantains--at every meal. This isn't as it really happened, but the firm, bready flesh beneath the salt-crispy exterior is too addictive to think of it otherwise.

I don't remember tasting Ti Malice, the intensely spicy hot sauce, while in Haiti. Mayonnaise was a more familiar condiment, dolloped on individual beet slices, of all things. But the mixture of onion, shallots, acid (lime or vinegar), and hot peppers is an excellent compliment to the reasonably bland plantains, and pairs well with any bean and rice dish.

Don't be intimidated by the deep-frying, or just wear one sturdy glove like Curley in "Of Mice and Men." You'll feel like a real weirdo, concealing that tender hand of yours, but you probably won't get burned.

Bannann Pezi
serves 2, very generously

2 green plantains*
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)
about 1 1/2 cups canola or corn oil, for frying

Before you begin, have ready a slotted spoon and a plate well-lined with paper towels.

Pour the oil into a small, high-sided saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. While the oil comes to temperature, prepare the plantains.

Hack off the ends of each plantain, and make a slit down the length of each. Remove the green peel; if any sap gets on your hands, rub it away with a bit of salt. On a slight diagonal, Slice the plantains into 1/4" slices.

After 5-10 minutes, test the oil: drop a plantain slice in. If it sizzles, it's ready. Gently add about half the plantain slices to the hot oil. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes, repositioning as necessary to avoid sticking. The cooking time will vary slightly depending on the oil temperature, which I don't bother checking.

Using the slotted spoon, lift a slice out. It should appear gloriously golden and crispy. If not, cook a few minutes more. Remove the cooked plantains from the oil, and transfer to the paper-lined plate. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh pepper. Repeat with remaining plantains.

*It is essential that you use green plantains in this recipe. The red or brown varieties just won't do.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Book

Forgive my unfaithful blogging; I've been working on something that's absorbed a good bit of time.

It's official: I recently signed with the fantastic and uncompromising Tofu Hound Press, and expect a cookbook to be published in Fall 2007!

I'll be working on it in upcoming months, and will be sure to post lots of pictures. Up next, tastes of Haiti: Riz et Pois Rouges with Fried Plantains and Ti Malice.