Mofongo is a simple and delicious recipe, a culinary Haiku. When you visit Puerto Rico or go to any bodega or Latin market/food truck/restaurant here in the United States, mofongo is ever-present. Mofongo is the side dish king for Puerto Ricans, but not without its quirks.
Table of contents
What is Mofongo
Mofongo is traditionally made with green plantains. We fry the plantains and then mash them with pork rinds and fresh, raw garlic and spices. This mixture is dense and filling. It is a mixture of soft and crispy, salty and tangy. Normally served as a side dish to almost any protein, but also served as the main course with a protein as an accompaniment. Mofongo is one of those dishes that takes us back to Puerto Rico every time eat it. We crave it and regard it as a true AUTOCTONO side dish (native or endemic) of Puerto Rico.
Key ingredients for great mofongo
The main ingredients are plantain, pork rinds, and garlic. Substitutions among these or the addition of any other ingredient is up to the cook and personal taste of the consumer.
Plantains for this recipe need to be green. The recipe calls for deep-frying and then mashing the plantains. Ripe, yellow plantains are too soft for this application, but I have eaten some mofongo made with half green plantain and half PINTO (pinto normally means spotted, but when it refers to ripeness it means the stage between green and ripe). Plantains that are pintos, tend to maintain the hardiness of the green plantains, while the development of the sugars has begun. So, these are sweeter than green plantains but not as sweet as ripe plantains.
Basics of Puerto Rican Cooking~A guide to some of our foundational Puerto Rican recipes and some of our favorite ingredients
Have you wondered what are the key ingredients to great Puerto Rican food?
Pork Rinds, any one?
Chicharrón (Chee-chah-run) or pork rinds are another key ingredient in the preparation of mofongo. Pork rinds add saltiness and crunch to the dish, especially is you have fresh rinds! If fresh rinds are not available use your favorite bagged pork rind. Here you have an option to experiment. Some pork rinds do come flavored which will add a different flavor profile to your final product.
If pork rinds is not your thing try using any of the following:
- Bacon. Need I say more? Bacon is the cure for anything flavor. We love bacon in Puerto Rico and here is a great place to use it. I buy the thickest slices of bacon and dice them as small as possible. I then, crisp the bacon as much as possible without burning it. Add it to the mofongo process while mashing the plantains, and it renders a very flavorful mofongo. The steam of the hot plantains and the juices of the garlic and oil, with a hint of lemon or lime juice will soften the bacon a bit. I have used some of the rendered fat from the bacon to mash the garlic and add to the mashed plantains, broadening the bacon flavor through out the dish.
- Crispy Chicken Skin, or chicharron de pollo. Some people do not like pork, it's ok, more for me. But to those who do not eat pork, crispy chicken skin will work as well.
- Think how you are serving the mofongo. If you are serving it with seafood or fish, consider substituting the pork for crispy fish skin or some asian crsipy dried shrimp?? Talk about taking this recipe to a different level.
Garlic, herbs and spices
The spiciness of the garlic gives this dish a bit of a punch or bite. Raw garlic in any recipe could be too strong for some, so please keep that in consideration when making this recipe, although the garlic is what makes this dish so exceptionally good.
I like to mash my garlic with a mortar and pestle with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I might even add a little of lemon juice or zest. The lemon, brightens the flavors. If you would like to add a pinch of dried oregano to this mix before adding it to the plantains and crispy protein, you can.
How to serve this delicious side dish
Mofongo is one of those dishes that even though it dubs the title of a side dish, you can very well eat it all by itself. Here is a list of the most common ways mofongo is served in Puerto Rico and in Puerto Rican restaurants and establishments;
- As a side dish accompanying a fried protein like chicken, pork or fish.
- Stuffed in the pilón (mortar). Sometimes the protein is stuffed inside the mofongo while inside the mortar.
- As fried balls. Sometimes these balls are also stuffed with a protein before service.
- In a bowl with a flavorful broth.
- Breakfast. This has been a new thing for me. I boiled some plantains with potatoes, sautéed some onions and garlic and sausage, then crushed the potato, and mofongo mashed the plantain. Added the potato and the plantains to the sautéed onions and garlic. Served with scrambled eggs. this was one of the most filling breakfasts I had in a while.
How to make Mofongo
Peel the plantains. Cut the plantains into 1-inch rounds, then soak the plantains in saltwater.
Heat, but not smoking, the frying oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, drain the plantains and dry off any excess water.
Begin frying the plantains in the pan. Fry the rounds until lightly golden and cooked through. I do not add all of the plantain rounds into the oil all at once. I usually divide the plantains into quarters and fry them as such. This avoids the development of steam within the oil and keeps the heat of the oil more stable.
While the plantains are cooking, mash in the pestle and mortar or dice the garlic and mix with the olive oil. Optional to add a splash of lemon juice to the garlic mixture to add a dimension and a spark of freshness to the dish. As the batches of plantains are finishing, add some of the plantains to the garlic mixture and mash them together. Continue adding the plantains alternating with the pork rinds.
Season with salt and pepper and give the mixture a couple of turns with the spoon to make sure ingredients are well incorporated and distributed.
Options for service;
Take small amounts and roll them into balls. I like to give them a quick fry at this point for an added crispy exterior.
Scoop and serve simply as a side dish
Line a cup or small bowl with some of the mixture. Fill with desired protein, and close with another layer of mofongo, for a stuffed mofongo dome or ball.
Scoop a large ball of mofongo into a bowl and ladle a brothy soup or it. Fish stock or shrimp soup is great for this.
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Fried green plantains mashed with fresh garlic, pork rinds, and spices. A delicious blend of flavor and texture.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 people 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Frying
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican
- Six plantains
- Twelve cloves of garlic
- One cup of pork rinds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Half a teaspoon olive oil
- Frying oil, enough to cover the plantains
- Optional a splash of lemon juice
- Peel the plantains. Cut the plantains into 1-inch rounds.
- Soak the plantains in saltwater.
- Heat, not smoking, the frying oil in a frying pan.
- Once the oil is hot, drain the plantains and dry off any excess water.
- Begin frying the plantains in the pan. Fry the rounds until lightly golden and cooked through.
- While the plantains are cooking, mash in the pestle and mortar or dice the garlic and mix with the olive oil.
- Add some of the plantains to the garlic mixture and mash them together. Continue adding the plantains alternating with the pork rinds.
- Season with salt and pepper and give the mixture a couple of turns with the spoon to make sure ingredients are well incorporated and distributed.
- Options for service;
- Take small amounts and roll them into balls. I like to give them a quick fry at this point for an added crispy exterior.
- Scoop and serve simply as a side dish
- Line a cup or small bowl with some of the mixture. Fill with desired protein, and close with another layer of mofongo, for a stuffed mofongo dome or ball.
- Scoop a large ball of mofongo into a bowl and ladle a brothy soup or it. Fish stock or shrimp soup is great for this.
- I do not add all of the plantain rounds into the oil all at once. I usually divide the plantains into quarters and fry them as such. This avoids the development of steam within the oil and keeps the heat of the oil more stable.
Keywords: Plantains, Mofongo, Mashed Green Plantains, Platanos
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