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Plantain Chips with Garlic Sauce
Apr 2nd, 2006

I very rarely go out for lunch during the week. Most weekdays you can find me eating leftovers in front of my computer; I'd much rather work straight through and get home a little earlier. And I make some good leftovers! But on the rare occasion that I do get out of the office, Mojito Cafe is my favorite place to go. (I believe they've recently had a name change to La Casa del Mojito, probably to differentiate themselves from their newer location in Lower Queen Anne, also called Mojito Cafe.)

I always plan on ordering something new, but inevitably wind up getting the vegetarian Cuban sandwhich and a side of black beans. The sandwich is good, melted white cheese and thinly sliced vegetables in a crusty roll that's been pressed in a sandwich press. But what I really want is the side of plantain chips with garlic sauce that comes with the sandwich. The chips are crisy and salty on the outside, chewy and sweet on the inside, and the sauce is just the essence of garlic. You don't want to breath on anyone afterword, but man is it good.

So when I wandered home from the store with a plantain last week, I knew I wanted to try my hand at plantain chips. I cut the plantain into 1/2 inch thick rounds and fried them in a shallow layer of canola oil over medium heat, salting them when they came out of the oil. You can also fry them twice (smashing them in between), in which case they're called tostones, and I'll definitely try that next time. The garlic sauce is just olive oil and garlic. I added cilantro to mine but to be honest you really can't taste it over the raw garlic flavor. It does turn the sauce a nice green color though. To make the sauce put some olive oil in a blender or food processor and add enough cloves of peeled raw garlic to make a loose paste. I used probably 1/8 cup of oil and 4 or 5 cloves of garlic. You won't need a whole lot of the sauce, think of it as an aioli basically. Serve the chips hot with the sauce mounded on top or on the side for dipping. Be sure to have some hot sauce on the table for those who are so inclined.

To go with our chips I made a fresh mango, yellow pepper, avocado, black bean, and shrimp salad with a garlicky avocado dressing and a few drops of hot sauce on top. We were breathing fire at the end of that meal - but it was a truly good thing.


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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com