Colombian patacón: plantain fritters to die for.

If you read The Kitchen Nomads’ blog you will have heard us praising the wide, fantastic variety of food in Hong Kong markets and how this allows us nomads to get an international feast in our tables any day of the week. Well, in all my undying love for the gai see* there is a small thorn that never stops pricking; the lack of real plantain. That glorious plantain like the one that grows by the tons in Colombia and represents not only the base of our cuisine but also a big part of the agriculture that feeds endless families, makes no appearance in the Hong Kong wet markets. I’m puzzled as to why this happens as it grows in the Phillipines and Indonesia the same way it grows in South America and most of Africa.

Shiny, large, emerald green and savory, plantain is the wilder cousin of banana and is eaten in an array of ways in Caribbean cuisine, from when it is very green to when ripe and sweet.  Each Latin American country has it’s own recipes with esoteric names such as fufu, mangu, mofongo and the like, which only goes to reinforce my believe in it’s almost magic properties, of which colombian Patacon is no exception. Most of our typical dishes would be alone in absence of it and although it’s not a dish in itself, smear it with some hogao, put some stringy beef stew on it or dip it in your black bean stew and you will realize why this crunchy, savory, delight is so much better than bread. There is even a song about it that used to make us crack up as children, it’s called Patacon Pisao which literally means Plantein Steped-on and as with so  many things in latino culture it’s full of nuances as sung by the very handsome Johnny Ventura.

To my relief I have found a sort of replacement to feed my plantain hankering in the shape of the small green banana that grows wild in Hong Kong and that ladies in the New Territories seem to use to feed their animals. It’s called Dai Jiu, it’s scientific name is Musa Paradisiaca, a very fitting name if you ask me, and it can be found at most wet markets. My only complain is that it must be bought very green and prepared almost immediately as they seem to ripen quite quickly.

This recipe like many Colombian delights requires double frying, which I’m fully conscious is not healthy but since it’s a time consuming recipe just don’t make it an everyday pleasure only a once-in-a-while indulgence.

*gaai see: what wet market are called in Cantonese


The Kitchen Nomads

About Paola & Jessica

The Kitchen Nomads are Paola, the Colombian style maven with a Spanish husband, who has lived in Cali, Boston, Barcelona and La Coruña; and Jessica, the French-English word lover married to a Northern Irish man, who has called Paris, London and Tokyo her home. They found a family in each other after meeting in Hong Kong in 2008 and started their blog to preserve the recipes of their ever expanding families and document all the wonderful things they eat and cook. They are kitchen nomads, they have both roots and wings.