By Erin Walgamuth
Cinco de Mayo holds a special place in my heart as it is the day our son was born. So, every year on his birthday, we make foods with a Latin flavor to celebrate his birth as well as the holiday. We typically start our celebration with one of our family’s favorite appetizers; fried plantains with garlic cilantro dipping sauce. This delicious starter pairs quite well with a margarita…or two.
What are plantains you ask? Well, they are native to India, a member of the banana family but lower in sugar with more starch than a banana. Their slightly sweet flavor is a lovely contrast to the garlic cilantro dipping sauce.
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You can find plantains at Sabor Latino, a beautiful new grocery store on Soledad Canyon Road next to TJ Maxx. Look for plantains that are brown to black in color as they will be ripe and have the best flavor.
You will need
10” wide and 4” deep heavy-bottomed pot
12” long tongs or slotted spoon
12x13 baking sheet covered in paper towels for draining plantains
Extra paper towels for layering plantains
Fried Plantains with Garlic Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Prep time is approximately 15 minutes
Cook time is approximately 28 minutes
For the dipping sauce
Juice of 5 large limes: about ¾ cup
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic finely minced or use garlic press
¾ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground, dried Pasilla chili or to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
For the Plantains
4 large plantains; about 12oz each
1 ½ cups corn oil
Sea salt to sprinkle over hot plantains
Whisk together all of the dipping sauce ingredients. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary, set aside.
Cut ends off of the plantains, peel and remove skin. Cut plantains into ¼ inch slices.
Put the corn oil in the heavy bottomed pot. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and heat oil on medium until the thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Remove thermometer.
Place plantain slices in the hot oil in batches. I put 14-16 slices in the oil at a time, don’t overcrowd. Fry plantains until they are brown around the edges and golden brown in the middle, turning over from time to time with the tongs for 3-4 minutes. Put cooked plantains in a single layer on the paper towel. Sprinkle with the sea salt, repeat process, layering with more paper towels as necessary.
Put the dipping sauce in a bowl. Put the plantains on a platter and serve warm. Muy Bueno!
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.
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