Tag Archives: plantain

Grown In Dominican Republic Page 1

Grown In Dominican Republic Page 1

Some of the many fruits and vegetables that grow in the Dominican Republic and their descriptions. Try a ripe yellow banana, a sweet, juicy pineapple or a tree-ripened mango. All are just too wonderful.

Lechosa/Papaya | Mavi | Aguacate/Avocado | Guineo/Banana | Piña/Pineapple | Mango

Lechosa/Papaya

Very ripe and juicy Lechosa / Papaya being sold in the streets.
Very ripe and juicy Lechosa / Papaya being sold in the streets.

Lechosa / Papaya is a fruit grown on large trees in tropical climates. There are male and female trees and their offspring are the sweet fruit papaya. Here in the Dominican Republic it is called lechosa.

Sweet Papaya, known as Lechosa in Dominican Republic, cut showing the black seeds inside
Sweet Papaya, known as Lechosa in Dominican Republic, cut showing the black seeds inside

It is a large fruit green when unripe. When the fruit is ripe and ready for eating it is soft and yellow with some darker spots here and there. It is best eaten plain and is quite juicy. One of the best ways to serve it is to blend it with some milk or carnation and ice. It is called Batida de Lechosa. This is really tasty. The little black seeds inside are sometimes eaten, they have a little of a spicy taste. They are used as a substitute for pepper when dried and ground.

Mavi

Dominican Republic Mabi de Bejuco Indio
Dominican Republic Mabi de Bejuco Indio

Mavi also spelled Mabi (pronounced Ma-Vee or sometimes Ma-Bee), is a staple in the Caribbean. This drink is made from the bark of the Mabi tree is also known as mabetree, soldierwood or seaside buckthorn. This bark is rich in glucosides (what is that you may ask? Wikipedia definition here) The bark is removed from the tree and boiled to make a tea. Sugar, usually raw or turbinado sugar is best as it has a little hint of molasses flavor to it. Many make this tea into the fermented drink by adding some yeast and letting it sit for a few days uncovered. It can also be made into a non-fermented drink as well. It is said to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and to make men more potent.

In Dominican Republic Mabi de Bejuco Indio is usually made locally and can be purchased in the Colmados and corner markets. It can be found in almost any type of bottle as the maker uses what is available. It is very refreshing and can be sometimes potent so beware.

Aguacate/Avocado

Ripe aguacates / avocados ready to be eaten
Ripe aguacates / avocados ready to be eaten.

The Avocado of Dominican Republic has a variety of types and flavors. It is one of our most imported fruits. We import both organic and non-organic versions of the fruit.

Some avocados are dry and not as sweet and others have a much different taste than the ones on the grocery shelves that most people are accustomed to eating. When this creamy, nutty-flavored fruit (yes it is a fruit, not a vegetable) is in season it can be found in abundance in every market, on the streets and in most restaurants at a very reasonable price.

Avocado trees in Salcedo, Republica Dominicana
Avocado trees in Salcedo, Republica Dominicana

Dominicans use this beautiful green colored fruit on salads or just eaten plain with a little límon/ lime-lemon to accompany any meal, soup or stew. Make a sandwich using this fruit on some pan de agua and you will be quite pleased. Aguacate is also used in many cosmetic preparations. Just remember, it is fattening (about 75% of an avocado’s calories come from fat) so don’t over indulge. Avocados have more potassium than bananas, have the highest fiber content of any fruit and are rich in B, E and K vitamins. They are also known to lower the bad cholesterol and help with the good HDL levels.

Guineo/Banana

Beautifil and prefectly ripened Guineos / Bananas
Beautifil and prefectly ripened Guineos / Bananas.

Guineo / Banana (the sweet type of fruit you can eat raw) – Platano/ Plantain (the hard fruit that is very starchy and needs to be cooked) are some of the most recognizable fruits of the world.

A truck full of Platano/ Plantain in the market.
A truck full of Platano/ Plantain in the market.

Here in Dominican Republic we love our bananas. They can be purchased in almost every corner store (Colmado) and in the streets. A sweet banana is a very nice fruit to refresh yourself and get some of the sugar your body might need on a hot day.

Rulo, another type of Plantain
Rulo, another type of Plantain

These large, big leaved plants can produce many fruits. They taste better here in the Dominican Republic because they are ripened right on the plant and not picked green like the ones shipped to other destinations. Choose a red, yellow or green banana/ guineo that can be eaten without cooking. Try a green to yellow platano that needs to be cooked to be eaten either plain or served in many imaginative forms. A fresh sweet yellow banana, nothing tastes or smells better.

Baby young bananas growing on a tree
Baby young bananas growing on a tree

For platano cooking information check out our recipes page.

Piña/Pineapple

A beautiful ripe pineapple, known as piña here in Dominican Republic
A beautiful ripe pineapple, known as piña here in Dominican Republic

The pineapple, simply called piña here, can be found growing in Dominican Republic. The ones sold in the streets here are usually vine ripened. This makes the piña taste so much better than ones you get outside of the country.

A truck full of pineapples /  piñas
A truck full of pineapples / piñas

They can be purchased in almost any spot in the country, especially when they are in season. Vendors always have them either whole or cut for you to enjoy right on the spot. Some vendors cut them in a spiral way that you can hold like a lollypop. Do not be afraid to eat the core as it is soft and sweet just like the outside fruit.

A pineapple / piña, sweet and juicy, ready for eating.
A pineapple / piña, sweet and juicy, ready for eating.

Mango

Ripe Mangos being sold in the street.
Ripe Mangos being sold in the street.

The Mango is a well-known fruit that grows on a tall tree. The tree makes lots of fruits that are very sweet and juicy. There are many different varieties of mangos grown in DR.

My favorite type of mango, Banilejo. Very large, sweet and juicy.
My favorite type of mango, Banilejo. Very large, sweet and juicy.

The mango makes for some messy eating and it is well worth the mess. I suggest eating it with a knife instead of just biting into the fruit. This way you get all the juice in your mouth and not down the arm. Also, the pulp is very stringy and if you don’t have dental floss or a toothpick handy you will be digging at your teeth all day trying to remove the little fibers from between and this can get annoying. Another way to enjoy an overly ripe mango is biting through the skin and just sucking out the juice. It may sound strange but you should try it. It is very satisfying.

Mangos ripening in a tree
Mangos ripening in a tree

Mango fruits are wonderful and refreshing so please do not pass them up. They make a wonderful juice with some ice, milk or carnation, and a little sugar in a blender. I love to freeze this milkshake type drink for a freshening icy treat.

Recipes 1 – Sanchocho & Platano

Dominican Recipes Page 1 – Sanchocho & Platanos

When I first came to Dominican Republic I had no idea what a Platano – Plantain was or how to use it. I thought it was a fat banana at first sight. This got many laughs as I tried to peal it to eat it like a banana. I have learned and also now I do enjoy cooking with this gree banana looking vegetable. And of course, there is Sanchocho, the food that Dominicans are most proud of. It is the favorite of all.

These are a compilation of things I have learned in my limited cooking experiences here in The Dominican Republic. Some recipes I have changed a little to make them my own. Other recipes are traditional Dominican and cannot be changed. If you try any of these recipes and you like or have an idea for a change let me know. If you have a special recipe you would like me to add please send them my way with a picture or 2.

Sancocho | What is Platano and what does one with it? | Monfongo | Mangú | Tostones | Platano Maduro | Platano Frito As Bread

Sancocho

Sancocho cooking on the fire with the meat ready to be added
Sancocho cooking on the fire with the meat ready to be added

Sancocho is Dominican Republic’s favorite. The countries signature dish is also known as the official dish of the country. This hearty stew type dish is traditionally made with 7 different types of meat. It can also be made with whatever meat and vegetables you have on hand. There are as many versions of this recipe as there are stars in the sky (maybe not that many, but very close).
It is normally made on special occasions. Many people like to cook it for Christmas. It does take some time to prepare but it is well worth the effort. Enjoy this hearty stew with some rice and avocado and you’ll think you are in Dominican Republic yourself!

3 lbs. chicken
2 lbs. pork chops or ham bones included
2 lbs. beef with bones
1 lb. goat meat
2 lbs. assorted sausages
4 large unripe platanos cut into large pieces
1 lb. potatoes
2 lbs. yucca of cassava cut in pieces
2 lbs. malanga cut in pieces
2 lbs. Spanish pumpkin
5 ears of corn on the cob cut in chunks
1 lb. yams cut into pieces
6 liters of water
4 TBSP oil
1 1/2 TBSP oregano
5 tsp. salt
2 sour oranges if not available use 4 lemons
2 TBSP celery
2 green bell pepper cut in large pieces
3 medium size onions
1 TBSP garlic (smashed)
oregano
thyme
cilantro or parsley
2 cubes of chicken or beef bouillon
2 tsp. vinegar
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (English Sauce) or soy sauce

Instructions

1. Cut the chicken in different pieces, wash the meat (except the sausages) and rub with sour orange or lemons. Cut into small pieces.
2. Brown the beef in the oil with herbs, onions, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire sauce (Salsa Americana), and salt for 20 minutes. Add pork and simmer 15 minutes. Add little water as necessary so it doesn’t stick Add the chicken with the stock and simmer another 10 minutes.
3. Bring the water to a boil and add the veggies and simmer for about 10 minutes
4. Add the meat and simmer until the veggies are soft. Mash some of these veggies and return to the pot to thicken the broth.
5. MY FAVORITE STEP. Put in a bowl. Serve with rice and avocado on the side. Add some hot sauce to taste. Lift the spoon to your mouth, close your eyes and savor the flavor of the country.

Mama Pura’s Recipes (Dominican traditional cooking Book 1) – Amazon book available in Paperback and Kindle

Platano – Plantain

Platanos on a truck at the Mercado Modelo
Platanos on a truck at the Mercado Modelo

What is a platano (plantain) and what do you do with it?
Platanos/ Plantains are in the Banana family. What is thought to be a tree is really an herb, the worlds largest herb for that matter. It has a compacted, water-filled leaf stalk that is composed of leaf sheaths that overlap each other and grow from an underground stem called a rhizome, unlike a trees woody stalk.

This plant can grow as high as 20 feet (6 meters) in height, which is about as tall as a two story house. There are over 500 different types of bananas including green, red and yellow versions.

A young Platano Tree
A young Platano Tree

The platano looks like very large bananas and are usually not eaten raw, they need to be cooked. They are very high in potassium and virtually fat free. These fruits are very versatile as they can be boiled, baked, or fried. Served as a vegetable, starch, or made into a sweet dessert. They can be used unripe or very ripe. An unripe platano is green, hard, and very starchy. The riper they get the more yellow and sweeter they become as the starch turns to sugar. They turn from solid green to a yellow orangish color with dark spots to black, when they become very soft and mushy. They can be used no matter how ripe or unripe they are. When they are green they closely resemble potatoes and are not sweet. As they become riper they become sweeter and the texture changes. The very black platanos are usually used in deserts because they are so sweet. If you fry a green platano it makes crunchy pieces while frying a sweet one the pieces are soft.

Mofongo

Monfongo in Pilón
Monfongo in Pilón

Mofongo is another dish made from Platanos. The platanos are fried then mashed chunky with different types of meat and seasonings added. It is then served with a broth you can to moisten the typical dish. It is served in a Pilón. As soon as I get a decent recipe for this typical dish I’ll put it here.

A Taste of Paradise: A Feast of Authentic Caribbean Cuisine and Refreshing Tropical Beverages for Health and Vitality – Amazon book and Kindle editions

Mangú

Mangu with onions and some coffee for breakfast
Mangu with onions and some coffee for breakfast

Mangú is a very typical Dominican breakfast favorite. It can be served for other meals but it is typically for breakfast. Mangú closely resembles mash potatoes in appearance and texture but the flavor is very different. It is made from the green platano (plantain), the hard banana looking vegetable that is seen everywhere in the country. There are as many different ways to prepare mangú as there are preparers.

I usually figure about 1/2 to 3/4’s of a large platano as a serving for the average human.

For Mangú it is best to cut the platano into about 3 pieces lengthwise (I also divide each piece in half lengthwise). Put the pieces in a pot covered with water (add a little salt if you would like) and boil those pieces to death. They have to be nice and soft. It usually takes 20 minutes or longer. Add water as needed to keep them submerged. Just make sure they are soft. Much easier to mash when they’re soft and this way you won’t get lumps.

Now those platanos are soft and ready for the next step. It is time to decide what you want to add for the mashing process (while mashing sauté up some onions, red if you have them, to put on top of or inside the mash).

Preparing platano for cooking
Preparing platano for cooking

Pulverizing them! Some use the water the platanos were boiled in to mash them. Some add a bouillon cube, stock, bacon grease, small pieces of cooked meat (bacon or ham) to flavor the mash. Some use milk as in making mash potatoes. Try all the ways, variety is always good. Add the liquid slowly so as not to get them too runny. I like to add a little green oil (olive oil) or a little butter also. Use a potato masher, blender, hand mixer or food processor. I was taught to use the bottom of a beer bottle. This is what my friends and I use. Anyhow, just start mashing them up til they are nice and smooth. Add the onions or some cheese while mashing if you’d like. Keep mashing until it is nice and smooth. Taste testing all the while to get the flavors correct.

To serve: Fry up some eggs (scrambled are typical), and some fried salami, ham or maybe some fried cheese, slop that wonderful Mangú on the plate. Top it with some of those sautéed onions. Then savor the flavor of a typical Dominican breakfast….yummmm…..

Tostones/ Fried Platano Chips

Platano Frito ready for eating - Tostones and a Tostonera
Platano Frito ready for eating – Tostones and a Tostonera

Peel green plantain and cut in in slices about 1/2 inch thick, usually cut on an angle, I don’t know why and it’s not really that important but this is the “Dominican way”.

Heat up some oil (like making french fries) and drop the slices into the oil. Fry them until they are just a little soft. They are cooked soft but not crispy. Remove from the oil and put on paper to drain some of the oil. As soon as you can touch them, smash ’em! Use anything handy, I use a beer bottle again. The bottom of a plate, anything flat will do. If you are lucky enough to have a Tostonera (this is 2 round pieces of wood, hinged, with a knob-like handle in the center pictures here) whose sole purpose is to smash tostones.

Press each piece to flatten it out, it will get a little scalloped edge sometimes. I like mine very thin but normally they are flattened to about half of the original thickness. Then put the flat platano back into the oil and cook until it has a nice light brown color, just a thin outside crust. Remove from the oil. Drain. Salt if desired.

These can be served plain, with ketchup/ketchu is very typical. I like mine with some vinegar or, typical Unitedstatesian, with Ranch Dressing. Any way you like them they are great. Serve them as you would any potato or french fries. Enjoy!

Note: You can slice these as thin as possible and fry them up like potato chips. They are a nice tasty snack.

Platano Maduro/ Fried Sweet Plantains

Platano Maduro are made with the black skinned or really yellow ripe platanos, as sweet and ripe as they get. They are peeled and cut down the length of the platano into long, flat strips. Between 1/2 to 1 inch thick, depending on your mood.

Fry these pieces in a little green (olive) oil, lard, or any other type of oil or butter. Do not cover the platano in oil, just enough so the oil is halfway up the side of the platano. Fry, turning until they are golden brown and caramelized. Drain. These can be served as you would any potato side dish. The flavor and texture are much different than the tostones.

Platano Frito As Bread

A Hamburger with a Fried Platano Bun
A Hamburger with a Fried Platano Bun

Here is an idea that is really easy and so tasty and a very different way to make a sandwich.

Cook up the Platano Frito the first cooking as normal. Then take a few or the pieces and mash them together to make a big bread sized piece of platano. Fry it up and fill it with sandwich makings.

I like to use it to make a hamburger with all the fixings.