Thursday, February 4, 2010

My FIRST Virgin Islands Inspired Recipe with Lime Zest SALT!

Aren't these pretty... and doesn't that lime zest/salt mix sound fresh and wonderful??? They are, but before I get to the recipe, here's an update on my move to the US VIRGIN ISLANDS (you all remember my wife has been assigned a temporary duty in the islands, and i am going along as ballast)...

It helps when I
listen to this... The photos are of Jamaica, but you'll get the idea of what I will have to put up with for 6 months. Go ahead and hit play while you read the rest of my post to get you in the mood...

The update... Not yet, and I am getting tired of being on hold. Since I met my wife, I have gotten used to living on "Government Time". Meaning things get done (or not done) in their own time, but quickly is not part of that equation. Now I am dealing with "Island Government Time". For the last ten days, we have been waiting for a memo to be exchanged and approved by three people. Still waiting. Everything is lined up on this end, cat sitter has been arranged (the cats came with the house, so someone got a great deal for scooping a little poo every couple days), Internet banking and bill paying will make everything very easy, we have had two goodbye parties with more to come. Our bags are partially packed. A box of cooking supplies is ready to be shipped. We have bought a couple travel guides and I hunt blog contributions to our stay daily. But, we are learning that when you are dealing with a place where, "goats were in the road" is a common excuse for being late, it's best to just, "Don't worry and be happy" that we will be there soon.

Meanwhile, we have to eat. May as well start hunting down recipes with an Island flair. This came from one of my TV chef heroes, Bobby Flay. BTW, isn't that Throwdown show the best? I always got great ideas from watching two versions of the same dishes being made. Justified my fly by the seat of my pants style of following recipes... Always close, but rarely exact. But I digress...

Bobby Flay's Burgers Fries & Shakes book is a fun read. LOTS of great ideas. Including a few "fries" ideas that are not potatoes!

These are made from strips of PLANTAINS. Now, I have a very brief history with these red headed step children of the banana. Brief as in once. I got married in Jamaica. One of those fancy all inclusive resorts. They had plantains on the breakfast buffet every morning, and I decided to give em a shot. In their pealed banana form, they taste like a cardboard banana. Non of the sweetness and little of the soft texture of the banana, just the deceptive look. I had thought that my history with the fruit had been written, and I was ready to move on to the Rum brunch buffet on the beach. Cut to 11 years later, and the photo in the book shown above has now made me curious. Maybe cardboard bananas (plantains) could be made better tasting.

They can...

Here's what I did...

Mise en Place (Assemble my ingredients)

For the salt Accent...

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons zest from a Lime

For the Fried Plantains

2 plantains
5 cups Peanut Oil

Peal the plantain. Not as easy as it sounds, unlike a banana, the peal wants to stay attached. Bobby suggests you cut the ends off, slice through the peal lengthwise and peel while holding under a running stream of water. Worked fine.

Once the plantains have been peeled, time to cut into thin strips. About 1/8th inch square. Bobby suggests using a mandolin. I just used a knife. Slice into thin slices, and then cut the slices into strips. Took less time than it would to set up the mandolin.

In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil to 375 degrees (just a couple notches above medium on my electric stove top). These fry up golden brown fairly quickly, Bobby says 45 seconds, mine took just a little longer, maybe a minute and a half. Fry in batches, I did 4 batches to cook up 2 plantains worth.

Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels to soak up the oil residue.

Easy peasy, and the salt mixture is just as easy (actually, MUCH easier). Just zest a lime, add salt and mix. Now, I used the proportions that Bobby suggested in his recipe. I do not salt my food. So, any added salt really stands out to me. Next time I do this recipe, I will only use 1/2 the salt to the same amount of zest proportions. This was a bit too salty to my tastes, but individual tastes will differ.

Sprinkle the zest/salt mixture over the plantains and you are done!

And the verdict...

Tastes like chicken.

Nah, that's not true, actually, they taste like fried sweet potatoes. The extra flavor of the lime really makes these shine. This will be a recipe I will repeat. On the Island, plantains are plentiful and inexpensive. Something I am discovering is not common. With few exceptions, everything sold on the island has to be imported. The extra costs are passed on, so the average food budget should be at least double what it is in the states. Being able to cook with plantains will help to cut that cost. I am even a bit excited. In doing research for this post, I discovered that plantains are often substituted for potatoes in Island recipes. Can plantain chips with a blue cheese sauce be far behind? And if that works, wonder how mashed plantains stack up... Which begs the question of creating a "goat herder's" pie to replace the stateside (or Queen and country's) shepherds. The mind boggles.

Gonna be a fun 6 months.

And BTW, if any of you are suffering from cabin fever and hating the look of snow and the cold, an easy to follow island recipe like this is a nice change of pace from all these soups and stews I am seeing lately. Toss a little Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffet on the iPod and dream of Island living (or at least warmer days to come)!

I served these with a Cajun shrimp Po'Boy Sandwich (in honor of the soon to be Superbowl champion New Orlean Saints), which is a post for another day.


And Hey, It's Thursday... And you all know what that means don't ya... Today I am hosting my weekly sister posting of I CAN COOK THAT, over at OUR KRAZY KITCHEN! If you follow the links, you will see a very detailed explanation of my bread making skills to try to talk another novice bread baker through making a successful loaf of bread (in fact, the bread you see in the Po'Boy photo above)!

Now, if you read
Sunday's post, you remember that I was nominated for the above award. I listed 6 lies and 1 truth about me. Click on the award to get to Sunday's post to read the "mostly" lies. It is such a fun award, and since each of the lies are just a bit true, I am going to stretch the reveal out for a few days, taking just one of the lies each day and telling the story.

So, the first NOT TRUE statement that I will reveal is that #4 is wrong. Most of the guesses were for this one
, sorry. But, feel free to return to the post and make a comment guessing which is true.

#4 read -
"I wear a goatee because my face was cut in a fight with my brother". Nah, but, I do have a slight scar (and dent) in my head from being hit with a hatchet by my cousin when I was very young. It was an accident (maybe), and the force was more gravity than human effort, but it did bleed like a son of a gun. I can still remember the screams of my mother when i walked in the house, being careful not to get blood on her clean kitchen floor.

OK, see you tomorrow for the next not truth.




  1. A plantain recipe! You know, I head for plantains all the time at the store, thinking they're bananas...until I realize they aren't and I leave them alone. But now you've given me a reason to buy some!

    I'm thinking it's hard to accidentally be hit by a hatchet. :)

    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  2. I would love to use the excuse "goats were in the road".....I may try that today when my boss gets mad at me for something random ;)

  3. Lucky YOU! I hope you have memorable (good ones) experiences over there and don't forget to bring home some exotic ingredients!

  4. The plantains look intriging as I haven't tried them yet. They've got to be good if they're fried!
    And yes, it sounds hard to be accidently hit with a hatchet!

  5. I like that... Goats in the road.... my son can use another excuse... he's always late

    Plantains look good...

  6. Oh man, I love the idea of lime salt. I'm definitely doing something with that.

    Heh, yeah, nothing bleeds like a scalp wound.

  7. I think "the goats were in the road" should be right up there with "my dog ate it". At least in the virgin islands.

    I LOVE plantains! they are actually really cheap here, like 10 cents each at whole foods. This sounds like a great way to prepare them!

  8. Oh, that lime salt is just briming with possiblities.

  9. That really appeals to my taste buds! Goats in the road.. In the U.P. of Michigan they call it Northern time...1/2 hr. late ain't late!

  10. i love that lime salt. lime is definitely my favorite citrus and i bet it completely brightened those plaintains!

  11. ok, first of all, that's going to be my excuse for everything from now on "There were Goats in the Road". I do love that throwdown show, much better than Iron Chef. I never learn anything from Iron Chef. This whole thing looks fabulous. Go Saints!

  12. That really gets my goat!

    If I had a dime for every "and then my cousin brought out a hatchet" story I've heard this week.... ;) (kidding)

    Love the idea of the plantain fries.

  13. haha...when I first saw the to photo I thought they were fries. mmmm...plantains.

  14. I love the plaintain and lime and salt idea. Perfect when we have SNOW in North Carolina!

  15. I've had plaitains several times in restaurants and they are so dee-lish! Great recipe, cher! I can't wait for the beach buffet! And good luck "putting up with" paradise!

  16. I have been to the US Virgin Islands... Interesting place... please wear your sunscreen and a hat! The sun is different there... Just trust me on that one... Those plantain fries look fantastic! I don't think I would make them but I would eat them if you made them. When we were in Vegas last month we had dinner at a fancy steak house in one of the hotels and the chef sent out... brace yourself... Duck Fat Fries... No one wanted to taste them and they pushed them toward me (Cause I"m the chef) and I dug in... Dave... wow... ohmygosh... I was knoddin my head like YEAH... Fantastic! Now where can I find Duck Fat?


  17. What an interesting take on fries! Yum. I visited Jamaica with my mom several years ago, we had fried breadfruit. It tasted kind of like a cross between a potato and bread. Odd, but good. :) Maybe that will be one of your exotic new ingredients!

  18. Yum yum yum on the plantain recipe! Excellent.