Fried plantain, or dodo, from The Groundnut Cookbook. Great as a starter or side dish, the plantain is flavoured simply with cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt.
As yellow plantain ripens, its skin turns black. In this state, it could be mistaken for being past it or gone off. However, at this stage it is, in many ways, at its best. Natural sugars develop which, when fried, caramelize into golden treats like no other. In Nigeria, dodo is a classic cut from the same compilation as moin-moin. Cubed and spiced yellow-black plantains are known as kelewele in Ghana. They can also be sliced into elegant discs which is how we prefer them.
|1 flat tsp||cayenne pepper|
|A pinch||of salt|
|About 300ml||sunflower oil, for frying|
Top and tail the plantains, then make a skin-deep incision all the way along the spine of each one. Open the skin and remove the flesh. Slice diagonally into long discs roughly 1cm in width and 8cm long.
Put the plantain into a large bowl and add the cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt. Gently massage with your hands so that each piece is equally covered with seasoning. Be gentle, because the plantain can turn to mush if too much pressure is applied.
Pour the sunflower oil into a wide frying pan until it’s about 4mm deep (note that when you put the plantain in, the oil level will rise further). Put the frying pan on a medium heat. While the oil heats up, prepare a surface, rack or plate covered with kitchen paper.
When the oil is hot, test it with one of the plantain discs – it should sizzle. Fry the plantain in batches by placing the discs in the frying pan face down, one by one. The oil should sizzle and you will see small bubbles around each disc. If this does not happen, leave more time for the oil to heat up or increase the heat – frying on a very low heat will create oily plantain. Do not let the discs overlap in the pan. It’s likely that you will need to fry them in batches, depending on the size of the pan you use.
After 3-4 minutes, turn over each disc using tongs or a spatula. The plantain should be golden brown on the outside. The thinnest parts, around the edge of each disc, will fry much more quickly, and will therefore crisp up and turn darker. However, the plantain should not char. Fry on the second side for 3-4 minutes.
Remove the discs from the pan one by one when each piece is cooked, and leave to rest on kitchen paper. Serve hot.
Leave the oil to cool, then store in a sealed container. It can be used again to fry plantain and will keep for a long time.