I’d like to think of plantain chips as West Indian potato chips – except 100x better than your regular jumbo bag of plain salty ruffles. Plantain chips are subtly sweet and salty, with the right amount of crunch captured as a result of frying perfection.
My friends refer to plantain as that scary/deceptive looking banana in the grocery store. Although from the same banana family, plantain carries its own unique flavour as it tends to be starchier and more firm than its banana cousin. There are a variety of ways in which plantain is prepared, across a diverse number of cultures. Every Saturday morning I wake up to my mom boiling plantains for breakfast – something that I have grown to love against the conventional breakfast options. There is also the joy of softly sautéd plantains, prepared in frying pan where the natural sugars from the fruit act as a caramelizer – a perfect pair for an ackee and saltfish meal.
Although the two examples above are absolutely delicious uses of plantain, my guilty pleasure is most definitely the packaged plantain chips from the West Indian grocery store. Particularly the brand called “Ravi’s Caribbean Style Plantain Chips” – these are heaven! Three simple ingredients: plantain, canola oil, and salt. My brother and I used to fight over who would get the bag of chips when our parents would come from the West Indian store. The only solution was to get us each our own bag – a solution that is still very much true today! You can get these chips at your local West Indian/Caribbean retailer, or sometimes they have them at selective No Frills (Canada).
I know in the “natural food scene” more North American providers are coming out with their own brand of plantain chips – which I have tried, but I cannot stress enough how different they taste. The salt to oil to plantain ratio is definitely a science, and I feel that Ravi’s chips are by far the winner for those of us who grew up with brand. The only other viable contender is your little ol’ West Indian grandmother choppin’ and fryin’ her own. There is the ketch of the week!