Christine of Christine Can Cook provided this Food Memory. She said, “Mofongo is a typical Puerto-Rican dish. It’s not something my family made growing up, it was more of a special dish to be had at restaurants and ordered for special occasions. It definitely isn’t an everyday meal- it can be super heavy and starchy and needs to be fried to enjoy the crispy textures. However, it’s one of my favorite meals and is extremely versatile. It can be done with stewed chicken, beef, vegetables, or as I made it here, with shrimp.”
This recipe was a challenge for me. Since I’ve never had Mofongo, I had nothing to compare my final dish to. I’ve also never cooked with plantains. Hell, before Mofongo, I’d never eaten a plantain. So let’s just say there were moments of indecision and second guessing as I followed Christine’s recipe. But in the end, I think I did ok. And fried plantains? More please.
I second Christine’s opinion that this isn’t an everyday meal. But if you’re looking for something different to get out of a dinner rut once in a while, maybe you should give Mofongo a try.
Christine Can Cook
BAH Note: Christine has a helpful pictorial of the process here.
- 3 plantains, sliced into rounds
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 pez sized pieces of tocino, if you can’t find tocino you can use bacon or pancetta
- 1 green pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 can Goya tomato sauce
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled
- Canola or Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Start by peeling the skin off the plantains. To open the plantain, slice the ends off the plantains and run the tip of your knife straight down the peel being careful not to pierce the plantain too much. Then, starting on one corner, peel off the skin until the flesh is exposed. Slice the plantains into 2-3 inch thick rounds.
In a medium sized pan, heat a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil over medium-high heat and cook the tocino until crispy. Remove tocino and add vegetable or canola oil to the pan (fill the pan up about half way so that when the plantains are placed inside they will be half in the oil and half out). Set to medium heat.
While the oil is getting hot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan and start wilting the peppers, onion, and 2 cloves of garlic. This should take about 10 minutes.
When the oil for the plantains is ready, place plantain rounds into the oil, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides (don’t allow to overcook!). If this needs to be done in a few batches that’s okay.
When the plantains are done browning, the vegetables should be softened. Add 1 can of Goya tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, start working on the plantain cake. In a bowl add 1 clove of garlic, tocino, and salt until it becomes like a paste. Add plantain rounds, about 5 at a time, and begin to mash together. This is a chore, so here are a few tips to make this easier:
- Smash the plantains before adding them so they don’t need to be completely smashed in the bowl or pilon. You can smash them using a knife, can, or cup. (I also want to note that this is how you make tostones, but that’s another recipe altogether)
- Also, this should *ideally* be made in a pilon, but I crushed the ingredients together in a bowl and it came out just fine.
- Also, I mashed this with a pestle, but I imagine you could use a spoon or a potato masher- just make sure not to over mash it. We eventually want this to come together like a cake.
Once all of the plantains have been mashed together and all the ingredient well mixed, look at the consistency. Sometimes the mixture is a little dry. You can add a tbsp of olive oil to the mix to bring more moisture to the mixture.
At this point, the sauce should have been simmering for about 20 minutes. You can now add the shrimp, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until shrimp have curled and are pink.
Once you add the shrimp, begin shaping the mofongo. Here’s where it can get really tricky if you don’t have a pilon, or mortar. You’ll need to use a deep bowl- think soup not cereal- to shape the mixture. If you don’t have either, you can ball the mixture and pour the sauce over that. If you do have a pilon, mortar, or bowl you can use it to shape the mofongo. Add about half the mixture into the bowl and press down, shaping the mixture into the bowl. To remove the mofongo, gently push the mofongo on one side until the other side begins to lift up, then scoop the mofongo out and put on a plate, flat side down.
Once the mofongo is shaped, the sauce and shrimp should be ready. Simply pour the shrimp, vegetables, and sauce over the mofongo and serve immediately.
The last step is simply to enjoy this wonderful puerto rican treat and let me know what you think. Hopefully. you’ll love it as much as I do! Buen provecho!