Introducing the Plantain

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BanaBay, purveyor of the finest Ecuadorian bananas, is on a mission to champion its cousin fruit, the plantain. Though it is an exotic and less familiar fruit, it has long featured on the menus of some of the best South American restaurants and is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient amongst the more adventurous amateur – and professional – chefs.

But is it a banana or is it a potato? Well, the best way to describe the flavour is the mild taste of a banana with the texture of a potato.

This green or yellow hued angular banana-like fruit has to be cooked before being eaten and can be treated like other starchy foods to add thickening to soups and stews or be sweetened with brown sugar and put on the BBQ for a dessert.

For savoury dishes, the plantain is usually eaten it in its green state but for sweet dishes, it is left until the skin is blackened and more of the starch has turned to sugar.

To prepare the fruit, top and tail it with the skin intact, then cut along the ridges of the skin and peel it away in strips. If cooking on the BBQ as with regular bananas, you can keep the skin on and wrap them in foil.

Plantains are beginning to gain in acceptance in the UK as they are a key ingredient in Caribbean cooking used by the likes of Levi Roots, chef, presenter and creator of a top selling hot sauce range.

Perfect for experimenting with, easy to cook and endlessly versatile plantains are most likely to be found at ethnic markets but increasingly the larger supermarkets with World Food offerings are beginning to stock them.

Plantains for Health

Like its relative the plantain is very nutritious containing many of the minerals and vitamins that bananas do but in higher concentration. High in starch they give an energy boost and contain dietary fibre which is good for digestion. In turn, the presence of Vitamins A, B and C protects the eyes, the nervous system and strengthens the immune system while the potassium content benefits blood pressure.

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