Flying plantains for the first time can be tricky, but a few small tips can help a first timer avoid some common pitfalls. Starting with yellow plantains, rather than green or black, can help ensure the plantains are sweet but firm enough to hold together when they are fried, which can make frying plantains easier for a beginner. Running cold water over an unripe plantain while peeling it can help keep the sticky substance inside from coating the cook's hands. When it is time to cook, choosing the right oil and getting the right oil temperature also greatly affects the outcome when frying plantains. For an extra crisp, some plantain dishes are fried twice.
The ripeness of the plantains plays a big part in the flavor of the cooked plantains. Frying plantains when they are slightly unripe, bearing a peel that is greenish in color, will yield a starchy flavor like a sweet and firm potato chip. Plantains begin to yellow when they ripen, and they take on a sweeter flavor. Super-ripe black frying plantains are even softer and sweeter, making them most suitable for dessert dishes. Many chefs prefer to use yellow plantains because their firmness makes them more likely to hold their shape well in the hot oil.
Experiment with cutting plantains into different sizes and shapes before frying to determine which shapes come out the best. Varying the sizes and shapes of the plantain pieces will produce different properties, including texture and flavor, when fried. Thin plantain pieces will produce a texture similar to a chip, while larger chunks will be crispy on the outside and soft and starchy on the inside. Soaking peeled plantain pieces in cool salted water can help keep the fruit from browning before use.
When a plantain hits the oil, it should bubble at a steady rate without splattering. Splattering can indicate that the oil is too hot, which will crisp the outside of the plantain without properly cooking the inside. Using oil with a higher smoke point, as such corn, canola or peanut oil, rather than oil that smokes easily, such as olive oil, makes it easier to reach the high oil temperatures that provide crispy plantains. Using oils that smoke at a lower temperature means longer cooking times and potentially greasier plantains. Do not overload the pan when frying plantains, or the oil will become too cool to cook them properly.
Plantains are fried twice for certain dishes, which usually use green plantains. Frying plantains, mashing them into a disc and frying them a second time until crispy produces a snack called toston chips or tostones. Once fried, the mashed plantain patties are salted and served with dip. These plantain cups are often stuffed with meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables and baked. Plantain fries are sometimes fried twice for extra crisp, especially if they are thick-cut fries.