Half of the dinners around here are quinoa bowls and fresh greens. The rest are filled with arroz junto and tostones. I never tasted mojo and gandules verdes while living on the west coast. Years later, Kevin laughs at me because I keep a jar of homemade sofrito and acchiote oil in the back of the refrigerator like his grandmother, but hey – what’s a guy to do?! These ingredients aren’t easy to find at the store without loads of additives like MSG. This recipe for tostones, or fried green plantains, and mojo are staples that we have at least every month. If you’ve been to our apartment, then you know that it’s a rite of passage to sit around the table with us and load up tostones with avocado and mojo while playing dominos.
After work, I bike home through Back Bay to Roxbury. I bike down the road where his aunt lives. It’s nice having his family in the city when I’m so far away from my own. I know that I’ve made it back to the neighborhood when I reach Fuentes market on the corner of Tremont and Parker Street. There is a giant Puerto Rican flag hanging in the parking lot and the guy across the street always has bachata playing for the neighborhood. I love to stop at the market for plantains. I’ve recently let little bits of my budding Spanish vocabulary spill out over the counter. They’re always patient with my inability to conjugate verbs and smile, either apologetically or enthusiastically.
I’ve learned that I’m a person who likes to set up home anywhere I go. At my desk at work, you’ll find plants from my coworker and crystals from our apartment. If I start to get lost in the shuffle of the day, then these tiny objects remind me to come back into myself. Food is this way. There are so many scents and flavors that bring me home. When Kevin and I first started cooking these recipes together, they reminded him of his family. Other than being delicious, they didn’t mean much to me. Now, late night tostones con mojo remind me of the small home we’ve built here in Boston, of Kevin teaching me how to smash plantains in the kitchen two years ago, and the one time I out-did his arroz junto by doing some food blog trolling.
Our kitchen table has weathered some storms (including the snowiest winter in Boston’s history) and helped us celebrate our first meal with Kevin’s family. These days, singing in the kitchen and frying plantains together has become tradition. I feel more present in my body and connected to the world when I can let my guard down and be my goofy self, who only knows the chorus to Romeo Santos songs, sings back-up to an ex-gospel choir singer and who still believes that we’re all here, just trying to become our best selves.
Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 10 min | Serves: 2
2 green plantains
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 tbs hot sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of coarse sea salt
pinch of ground pepper
1 head of garlic
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbs water
pinch of slat & oregano
- Peel green plantains and slice at a diagonal angle into 1″ thick pieces.
- In a small bowl, mix together hot sauce, lemon, sea salt, and ground pepper.
- Fry the plantains for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden.
- Remove from heat and use the bottom of a jar or glass to smash into 1/2″ thick plantains.
- Dip in aguacante and fry again for 1-2 minutes, until deep gold on each side.
1. In a food processor, add garlic, lemon juice, water, salt, and oregano. Purée until smooth.