Plátano O’Clock: Mangú, Tostones & Mofongo

Cheers to plátano o’clock! It’s time to dig into Dominican culture via the humble plátano.

(Here’s why plátanos are so important and worth celebrating, in case you need to catch up!)

Today, we are going to take a closer look at three popular Dominican dishes: mangú, tostones and mofongo.

You can eat these as part of a bigger meal, as a snack, or on their own. They are delicious and very nutritious.

Mangú

Mangú is one of the most popular and beloved dishes in the DR. While you can eat it for any meal, it’s an essential component of the traditional Dominican breakfast.

Mangú is deeply rooted in family culture. Many Dominicans will talk about mangú in the same breath as treasured family memories. Maybe they can still taste the mangú their grandma used to make on Christmas Day. The love of mangú is passed down from parent to child, and this is a big part of what makes it so special.

To make it yourself, peel, cut and boil unripe plantain in water until mushy. Mash the plantain to your preferred consistency, adding butter, water and oil as desired. Traditionally, you use the water from the pan where the plantains boiled.

The optimal consistency of mangú is up for debate. Some like it lumpy, others super smooth. Some prefer it drier, while others enjoy the wetter, saucier variety.

Top it with onions fried in vinegar and ‘Los Tres Golpes’ (the three hits) : fried salami sausage, fried cheese and fried eggs, and you’ve got yourself a day-starter. For Dominicans, there’s nothing like starting your day with mangú.

Tostones

The Dominican equivalent of French fries, tostones are a favourite side dish served alongside many meals. They are usually salted and served with some sort of tomato sauce or mayo for dunking.

Simple but mighty, tostones are found almost everywhere, from hole-in-the-wall comedors, to established upscale restaurants. These little double-fried plantain chips take a proud place in Dominican culture.

Tostones even sometimes feature in the unofficial Dominican national dish, La Bandera (the flag), so called because the colours and sometimes plate design match the DR flag.

If you can watch them being made, the Dominican kitchen has a special wooden device just for squashing tostones, called a tostonera. The plantain rounds are fried once, then squished between two flat pieces of wood and thrown straight back in the frier for round two.

The twice-fried technique makes them extra crispy as there’s all the more surface area to touch the oil and seasonings.

I dare you to eat just one!

Mofongo

Mofongo is a seriously powerful dish. Close to many a Dominican’s heart (and belly), this garlic plantain mash with pork crackling is not to be missed on your trip to the Caribbean.

Mofongo is super popular in Puerto Rico as well, and is thought to have emerged from their shared African roots.

While traditional mofongo is made with pork crackling, many variations are served in restaurants, like chicken, bacon and even shrimp.

To make your own mofongo, peel and chop plantain into little rounds. Fry them until soft and golden. Drain then mash roughly with plenty of garlic and pork rinds (chicharron). Use your hands or a container to shape and serve.

Mofongo is very distinctive, as it is smooched into a ball and served on a pilon, a sort of wooden cup. On a plate, you’ll see it pressed into a half-dome. It’s often served with a little bowl of garlic or chicken broth on the side, so you can moisten the mofongo to your liking.

De-licious.

Join us next time, as we explore some more complex Dominican dishes. As always, Dominican Cooking is a great place to find details of recipes, written by a real Dominican!

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