Plantains, a close cousin to bananas, are eaten when they are green, reddish black, or black depenging on the variety. The flesh is very firm, higher in starch and lower in sugar. They are prepared more as a root vegetable would be. A popular South American and Caribbean dish is tostones — twice-fried plantain chips. Tostones are easy to make, but there is a little trick to peeling plantains.
Start by cutting off the tips and ends from each plantain, then cut three to four shallow slits from tip to end.
Loosen one section with your thumb and peel, then remove the rest of the skin. You'll notice the skin peels off easily. The flesh should be very firm and creamy white or very light pink in color.
Cut plantains into pieces that are 3/"4 to 1" thick. If you're not ready to cook, put them into a bowl of ice water and a little lemon to prevent them from turning brown. Drain and dry them when you're ready to cook.
Add vegetable or canola oil to a hot skillet — about ½" deep or so. Check if oil is at frying temperature by placing a wooden spoon or chopstick into the pan. When bubbles form it's fryin' time. Place the plantain pieces into hot oil and fry until they are golden. Place them on a paper towel to drain.
Deep frying soften the plantains, which is important for this next step: pressing. Flatten them gently, but don't mash the hell out of them. I use a small "tostonera," a wooden press, but the bottom of a coffee mug works just fine.
Finally, place the flattened pieces back into the hot oil and fry them again until they are golden brown on both sides.
Drain them on a paper towel and lightly salt while they're still hot. I like adding a little powdered garlic and black pepper too. Tostones go well with eggs — they're good with any dish that you'd serve French fries. If you make a big batch you can re-heat them in a toaster oven.