Power to the Plátano!

Before you come to adventure in Cabarete, you should probably know a bit about plátanos. Plantains are hugely popular in the Dominican Republic: they are a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes.

Let me introduce you to the humble plátano in its many forms. Read on to learn where it’s grown, and what exactly gives it its magical powers.

50 Shades of Plátano

Like potatoes, you will come across plátanos in many different forms: mashed, fried, boiled, baked, barbequed, rolled, caramelised, draped over sushi rolls, even made into blocks and baskets. It’s a pretty versatile ingredient.

Here’s a quick list to get you clued up on the lingo:

  • Plátanos or maduros fritos = fried plantain chips
  • Mangú = mashed plantain
  • Mofongo = mashed plantain with pork crackling
  • Tostones = twice-fried plantain chips
  • Pastelón = plantain layered with ground beef, tomato sauce and cheese, a plátano lasagne
  • Platanos al caldero = plantain caramelised in cinnamon, brown sugar and rum. Yes.
  • Aguají = garlicky plantain broth
  • Piononos = plantain rolls with ham and cheese
  • Pasteles en hoja = plantain and beef pockets, wrapped in plantain leaves like a tamal
  • Mala rabia = guava and plantains in syrup (dessert)

To learn more about these dishes and how to make them at home, check out this great Dominican Cooking blog.

Around the World in 80 Plátanos

Plátanos are popular for good reason. Plátano trees grow all year round in tropical climates across the world. They’re reliable, healthy and never out of season!

Plantain trees grow in at least 120 countries. They’re a key global food source. It’s estimated that the humble plátano provides a quarter of the energy needs of over 70 million people.

Major players in the plátano game are Cameroon, Uganda, Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines. Plantains are also grown widely in Peru, Myanmar, India, Egypt, all over tropical America, and in Indonesia and islands in the Pacific.

Power up the Plátano!

Successful Dominican athletes have credited the plucky plantain in their sporting achievements. They have nicknamed it their ‘Plátano Power’ because of the supernatural abilities you get from the starchy fruit.

Let’s break down what exactly gives plátanos their magic powers.

It may seem odd for a fruit to be a nutritional staple, but plátanos are dense with good nutrients. They do bulk out a meal with some solid carbohydrates. But that’s not all they’re capable of.

Plantains are high in fibre and have a lower GI value than potatoes. This means your body will break down the food more slowly, and you are less likely to get energy spikes and crashes. Fibre will help keep your digestive system happy, and keep everything nice and regular.

la bandera, of course with plantains

Plátanos supply about the same number of calories as potatoes, but they pack a bigger vitamin and mineral punch. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and B-6, and contain magnesium and potassium.

Vitamin A helps keep eyes, teeth, bones, and skin in tip-top condition. Vitamin C is needed for all-over growth and repair, managing cholesterol and getting rid of toxins. And vitamin B-6 keeps the brain, muscles and nervous system healthy.

Your body needs magnesium to absorb calcium and maintain strong bones. It also helps fight migraines, heart disease, diabetes, and anxiety. Phew.

Potassium is super important, too. It helps stabilize blood pressure, reducing the risk of dangerous conditions like hypertension and heart disease. It plays a big role in muscle growth, bone health, and maintaining brain functions like memory. Potassium helps regulate your blood sugar levels and boosts your metabolism. All good things.

On top of all this, plantains are low in toxins, so you can keep putting off that vegetable juice detox with a clear conscience.

Did you know?

Only 15% of the plátanos grown in the world are traded, the rest are eaten domestically.

The plátano tree matures around 18 months after planting, and can produce fruit for up to thirty years.

As well as giving us our favourite plátanos, the tree’s big leaves provide shade for crops around it like coffee, cassava, and other fruits. A generous plant, indeed!

Dominican Food Mangu it's all about plantains

Go, try it!

Now it’s up to you to go and get to know the plátano even better. Ask for a plátano dish in any comedor in Cabarete, have a look on how they grow during our Taino farm tour, or sample the traditional recipes in other Dominican regions.

So, go forth! Eat plátanos and be merry!