Considering we were surrounded on all sides by the Caribbean, it’s no surprise that seafood played a starring role in most of our meals on Roatan. Of course, access to fantastically fresh lobster, fish and shrimp doesn’t automatically translate into restaurants that know how to cook it, and we had a few overdone lobsters during our trip. However, we found fried seafood a universally safe bet, and multiple joints served amazing conch soup, often in a yellow curry base, with a side of homemade coconut bread.
Our condo’s kitchen was well-appointed and our table with a view of the ocean beckoned, so we did cook for ourselves a few nights. Though the grocery store had little to offer, the pick-up trucks lining the streets of West End were laden with pineapples, plantains, avocados and other home-grown veggies. We also managed to discover a seafood vendor (again, from the back of a truck) and picked up a pound of shrimp for a ridiculously low price. Hence, our favorite island supper consisted of rice, plantain chips, and shrimp sauteed in garlic and butter. In particular, I was pleased with the plaintain chips—peeling them is a ridiculous exercise (I was without this tool the NYT profiled recently), but it was worth the effort. When you take a bite, the crispy, salty exteriors give way to creamy, sweet, slightly starchy insides—an evocative island food.
Warning: This is less of a recipe, and more like general instructions—I know it’s kind of vague.
First, you want to slice and peel your plantains. I found the easiest way to peel was to slice into ½ inch pieces first, make a small cut in the peel on each slice, and then pull the peels off. Then, heat your oil over medium heat—I used about ¼ c of oil for two large plantains, but it use your judgement based on the quantity of your plantains. Once oil is heated, toss in your slices and salt liberally. Turn heat to medium-low, and fry for quite awhile—up to 20 minutes. The time will depend on the ripeness of your plantains. I just kept testing slices along the way until you like the taste. When done frying, let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate. After a few minutes, transfer to serving dish and squeeze lime juice on them to taste.
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