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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mofongo!!! Fried Green Plantain with Crispy Pork Bits

Hi guys!

For those of you who read the title of this post and said to yourselves "mofo what?!" hopefully you have had tostones, or fried green plantains.  If you love tostones, I promise you, there is no way that you will not absolutely love mofongo.  If you have not had tostones by now, try them for goodness sake!

Mofongo is a  yummy dish popular in both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic that is traditionally made with crispy bits of fried pork skin (chicharron), garlic, sometimes a little oil, and, of course, fried green plantains.  Mofongo has many, many variations these days, such as mofongo with shrimp, with longaniza (a flavorful sausage used in Spain and in different parts of Latin America), with any meat known to man pretty much.  Then there are other variations, such topped with white cheese, half boiled plantain/half fried, covered in a red tomato-based creole sauce.  In short, you can do tons of things with mofongo, but the traditional is with 100% fried plantain, garlic, and chicharron (can refer to either pork skin or the pork belly with the meat, fat and skin, depending on the context) served with mojo criollo (bitter orange-based sauce that is very heavily flavored with garlic and oregano as well as onion) on the side.

By the way, if you don't have a pilon, you can just use the Thai clay or wooden mortar and pestles found at any SE Asian market (see my list, plus I believe there is one on Midlothian) and maybe in some Latin markets (this is less likely in Richmond).

Well, I'll stop blabbing.  Here's the actual recipe.  Enjoy!  And by the way, there are vids of how I did the whole process, but for some reason, my formatting got screwy when I put them earlier on in the post, so I gave in and put them at the end.  Let me know what you think.


* this dish is pretty dry and crumbly as leftovers, so *only make as much as you will eat right away.*

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  1. 3 green plantains (they should not be turning yellow or they will be sweet) (in 1/2" slices, soaked 10-15 in generously salted water to remove excess starch/stickiness) 
  2. chicharron (you can use the unflavored bag one or you can fry pork belly yourself and cut it into tiny bits) 
  3. 3 cloves of garlic
If you decide to do the chicharron homemade, I marinated mine in mojo and then rubbed it in 1tsp of baking soda for extra crispiness (a tip I got from a Colombian blog (
Cuban Mojo Marinade Ingredients:
  1.  1 heaping tsp of oregano 
  2. 1 cup (or so) of bitter orange (sold in a bottle in Latin section at any supermarket and at any Latin market--I recommend Goya or Badia brand) 
  3. 1 tsp of salt 6 cloves of garlic (mine were pretty large) (mashed into a paste or passed through a garlic press) 
  4. pepper to taste 
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil 
  6. This is my own thing, but I also added the juice of half a lime since the bitter orange is bottled.  It just gives it that fresh zip.  Two tsp is likely enough because I added more bitter orange afterward since it was strong) 
* Reserve about 1/3 cup of this marinade and store separately in the fridge to add in to moisten the mofongo as you prepare it **I beg of you, if you add the lime PLEASE don't use bottled.  Please don't do it.       
  • Chicharron     
  1. desired amount of chicharron, marinated overnight in mojo recipe above     You only need maybe 1/3 lb of chicharron for the actual mofongo, but I got 1.5 lbs and enjoyed the rest on its own.  It's super cheap.  Just ask the butcher to cut you some pork belly with the skin, meat, and fat all in tact.  Cut the chicharron into 1-1/2" - 2" pieces to fry. 3/4 cups water 1 tsp baking soda    
  • Procedure:
  1. Pre-soak your plantains in generously-salted water for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, paper towel dry the plantain well then rub the marinated chicharron in the baking soda.  Cook the chicharron  over medium low heat (Skin side UP--you don't wan't to cook it in water or it'll get chewy, not crispy) in 3/4 cup water while you soak the plantains. The reason for drying it is because the marinade adds a lot of liquid and excess liquid will make your chicharron chewy.  It isn't supposed to cover the meat. 
  2. After about ten minutes of cooking on medium low (it should look very close to cooked, if not cooked), transfer the meat into a separate, ungreased, pre-heated pan to let it fry in its own grease over medium high.  Be sure to turn the meat two or three times to allow it to become crispy and brown on all sides.  
  3. Alternatively, you can also just fry it the chicharron the whole way it its own fat, rather than doing water, if you don't want to risk messing it up and getting chewy chicharron. Traditionally, the process is to cook the chicharron in 1 cup of water over medium low until the water evaporates, then it fries in its own grease.  This doesn't work for this recipe since we used a liquid marinade, not a a basic salt or salt and oregano dry seasoning.  Besides, many people end up with chewy chicharron with the water process anyway, and some opt to just fry the meat in its own grease the whole way, skipping the water altogether. 
  4. Fry the pre-soaked and very thoroughly paper towel dried (this is to avoid grease popping everywhere) plantain slices in oil that has been heated over medium high heat.  Fry until light golden brown.  You just want them cooked, not too dark--when you start seeing those dark brown, almost blackish lines in the plantain, you've cooked it a bit more than necessary.  *In the video I said to cook them a little past doneness, but I later found that to be unnecessary, and it may result in drier plantains.
  5. Next, in a pilon (mortar and pestle), mash your garlic (yes, it is left raw) with salt (1 tsp should be good) until it becomes a paste.  Mashing with salt is key because it gets rid of the bitterness of raw garlic. Add in the plantain little by little.  
  6. Add in your small bits of chicharron that you've chopped after frying. Mash them in as you add the plantain and mash.   This takes some force behind it, so don't be scared.  You want to mash just until it begins taking the shape of your pilon--not too hard or too soft and you should still see some texture.  It should NOT be 100% uniform.  If it looks dry, just add in a little oil and add in some of the leftover mojo, if it needs further moistening.  If the ball doesn't stay in the pilon, form it by hand.
  7. If you have a larger pilon, no worries, just form the mixture in your palms.  It should be a semi ball, one side round, one side flat.  Once you get the shape, stud it with a few more pieces of chicharron for looks.  
  8. Serve the mofongo round side up.  If you like, serve it with strained mojo, but I didn't need to.  Mine was really flavorful.  I just served mine topped with a slice of smoked provolone, which I melted on the top in the oven.  I got this idea from the amazingly tasty mofongo a la doña with longaniza from El Carrito de Marchena in Santiago about a mile or less away from PUCMM.  Yum, yum, yum!

  1. Below, you will find the four videos I did for the process so that you guys could have a visual.  I will try to edit them maybe this weekend and add in the final part where I showed the finished product.

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