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Five flavours » Jamaican, Vegan, Vegetarian » Food for the Soul: Black pepper plantians

Food for the Soul: Black pepper plantians

When I was in high school waaaaaaay back in the eighties, I divided my time between listening to Duran Duran and Wham and also chilling out to reggae favourites like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. I, at one point, started to wonder just what Mr. Marley would’ve eaten at home in Jamaica. Among other things, my search turned up fried plantains.

Unlike the familiar sweet yellow bananas that I grew up with, plantains are usually green and the skin is quite tough. It seems that most of the time Jamaicans simply eat plantains fried in oil, perhaps with a bit of salt and pepper. But someone, or some book, somewhere taught me that “blackened” or “peppered” plantains are even more delicious. When I noticed that a bumper load of Filipino plantains had arrived in my local veggie shop, nostalgia overtook me and I had to make some peppered plantains.

These are really simple to make and are a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or fish or maybe just a big ol’ plate of black eyed peas cooked with onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. There are no real measurements here as there are various sizes and shapes of plantains available depending on season or location. Just put some reggae on go with what feels right.

Peppered Plantains

about handful of whole black peppercorns
plantains, three short ones or two long ones
canola oil

First, prepare the peppercorns by grinding them with a mortar and pestle until broken. Next, place the broken pepper into a sieve and shake until all the powder drops out of the bottom.*

Next, using a sharp knife, cut off the end of the plantain. Then, cut down the length of the skin in two or three places. You want to cut through the skin but not the actual “banana” part inside. Then it should be easy to pull the skin off but you may need to do a bit of shaving of the tough skin with the knife.

Put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a pan and heat between low to medium.

Slice the plantains at an angle to about 1 cm thick.

With the crushed peppercorns spread on a plate, begin to dip a piece of plantain at a time. Apply a little pressure so that a good amount of peppercorn sticks to each side and then place each piece in the hot oil to fry.

They take a minute and a half to two minutes for each side, but just look for the golden brown colour.

*Do this over the sink unless you want to save the pepper powder. The powder is what makes the pepper very spicy so you want to remove as much as possible so that you end up with just the warm, crunchy, flavourful hulls.

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