Plantains look like bananas, but have dramatically different uses. Green — or unripe — plantains work well as a savory starch. You can mash them, for example, or make them into a soup. As they ripen, plantains become sweeter. Yellow plantains are mildly sweet, while nearly-black or black plantains are sweet, soft and ideal for desserts. When you make fried plantains, use either green, yellow or yellow and black ones; fully black plantains are too ripe to work successfully in this preparation.

Things You'll Need

Cut both ends off your plantain, then cut a slit down one of its ridges from one end to the other. Peel the plantain by prying the peel off through this slit. This will be significantly easier if your plantain is moderately ripe than if it is completely green.

Cut the peeled plantain into slices of your desired thickness. This depends completely on your personal preference; the slices can vary from 1/8 inch to 1 inch thick.

Put a deep pan on the stove and add enough vegetable oil to come approximately halfway up your plantain slices. For example, if your plantain slices are 1 inch thick, add 1/2 inch of oil to the pan. If your slices are 1/2 inch thick, add 1/4 inch of oil to the pan. Heat the oil until it reaches approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit on a deep-fry thermometer.

Place the plantain slices in the oil. Fry them until they are golden-brown on the first side. This should take approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until the second side is equally golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the cooked plantain slices to a plate covered with paper towels to allow them to drain. Sprinkle with salt or other seasonings if desired.