This is one of those foods that can take you back (I’m kind of constantly in that state aren’t I?). Whether you’ve had it on a trip to Puerto Rico or your abuelita or mother made it for you when you visited, at your request, or if you’re fortunate to have a Puerto Rican or Dominican restaurant close by, you will NEVER forget the taste and will certainly come back for more. It’s simple and it only needs one word, pronounced, moe-phone-go. Sort of like “Madonna“, Prince, Beyonce, you get my point.
Mofongo has it’s history. The dish is a made up of a plantain mash with pork cracklings (variations can include making it with bacon instead). The origin of it comes from Africa as the slaves brought with them a dish that they called foo-foo or fufu and is made in the same manner as mofongo from different mashed starchy vegetables, namely, yams, cassava and plantains. The recipe below is thought to originate from Puerto Rico although there are similar mashed plantain dishes that come from Cuba, they call it fufu de plátano and Dominicans have mangú but also make a mean mofongo as well.
The way to make mofongo is traditionally in a mortar and pestle, which looks like the picture below, but if you do not have one you can use a potato masher or place in the food processor to totally smash the plantains and mix with the garlic. Roll up in a ball or serve in the mortar and pestle. Traditionally this is eaten with a creamy chicken broth, but you may also have it as a complete meal with shrimps, beef (especially beef stew) and any other meat of choice. The recipe I provide is the traditional basic one.
Do yourself and your family a favor and make this dish. I guarantee it will go down in your book as a recipe to save and hand down to generations to come.
- 3 very green plantains (platanos), peeled and soaked in salted water
- ¼ cup (or to taste) pork rinds or pork cracklings (you may also use cooked bacon)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed to a paste with a mortar and pestle
- kosher salt (to taste, just don't add too much)
- 3 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
- Peel the plantains of the green skin and cut into 2-inch rounds, and deep fry only ONCE. Be careful NOT to overcook or undercook. You should remove the pieces from the oil once you can stick a fork into it and the plantain is still tender NOT crispy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt if you wish (remember not to over salt them).
- While the tostones (plantains) are still hot, pound them one by one with a pestle together with a little of the crushed garlic, a few of the pork crackling or bacon, some of the olive oil and salt if you wish to add more. PLEASE NOTE: If you don't own one of these mortar and pestle's you may wish to use a food processor.
- Pound the mixture until the plantains are coarsely mashed and the ingredients are well combined. If you see the mixture is dry you may use more olive oil.
- Form into balls and serve.