What are tostones (patacones)?
The patacón or patacon pisao, also called tostón or frito, is a dish made from flattened and fried green plantain slices.
In Colombia, frying a good patacón can be considered an art.
Patacones are pieces of plantain that are first fried in hot oil until golden brown.
Then, they are drained and flattened. The utensil used to flatten the plantains is called a tostonera, a wooden gadget created especially for patacones, but it is quite possible to flatten them with a small dish, or between two boards lined with plastic wrap, to obtain a flat plantain slice about ½ inch thick. The result will be the same as with a tostonera.
After flattening the banana pieces, they are deep-fried again for a few minutes.
These kinds of green plantain chips, twice fried, should be served hot or warm, as an accompaniment to fish for example, or as snacks most often served with guacamole, hogao (criollo sauce) as is the case here or even with aji.
In Haiti, they are called bannan fris.
What is the origin of tostones (patacones)?
The origin of the word patacones seems to either come from the Spanish word for “toast” or from the currency of the same name dating from the time of Great Colombia in the first half of the eighteenth century.
The patacón is, originally, the name of several different currencies used in different countries at different times.
The origin of the word patacón comes from the Arabic batakká, and it is the name of many coins used by the Arabs in the Middle Ages. This word is at the origin of the Italian word patácca, which at the time designated money from Muslim countries and then a “currency of little value” to take the meaning of “counterfeit currency”. In modern Italian, this word means “fraud”.
In Portuguese, the word pataca was used to refer specifically to certain currencies of former colonies, such as Macao.
Finally, the name patácca became patacón, name that gave birth to the first Colombian coin. The patacón was the first currency used in Colombia, in Cúcuta.
It is thought that because of its rigid and almost round appearance, the famous patacones bears the same name as the coin.
Plantain is a fruit that has healing, antibacterial, antitussive, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is eaten, produces alcohol, medicines, paper, rope, string, wire, various handicrafts, umbrellas, organic disposable plates, cooking containers, glue, dye, soap.
The plant was also brought, during the great navigations, to the Caribbean and America. It is now cultivated in all tropical regions of the planet.
Plantain, unlike conventional banana, can not be eaten raw, because of its high starch content, which makes it totally indigestible in its raw form.
It is often eaten mashed, often acting as a starch with a neutral taste like potato, and serves as a daily staple dish, accompanied by a sauce, vegetables, meat or fish.
It is the famous fufu that is found in all sub-Saharan Africa under different names, but also in Cuba under the name of fufú de plátano. In Martinique, it is called banane-farine or banane jaune, and it is part of the popular potée antillaise dish.
And of course, people also eat it fried as patacones (or tostones).
For example, as slices that are fried in palm oil, it is the famous alloco of Ivory Coast. In Nigeria, these plantain chips are called dodo. In Uganda, Tanzania or Rwanda, they are called matooke and in Ghana, they are called tatale.
In Colombia, plantain is the cornerstone of nutrition, where average consumption is estimated at 100 kg per person per year.
In some African countries, plantain accounts for more than a quarter of the daily calorie intake.
Plantain alone is the staple food for nearly half a billion people around the world.
Plantain and conventional banana together make up the most important food crops in the Southern countries, after rice, wheat and maize.
Plantain is found in the following countries and continents:
- in West, Central, East and South Africa
- in the Caribbean: Antilles, Cuba, and Haiti.
- in Central and South America: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Brazil.
- in the southern United States
- in Hawaii
- in southern India, Kerala and Tamil Nadu,
- in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines
- in northern Australia, New Caledonia and the Pacific Islands.
In New Caledonia, the plantain is called banane-poingo. In the north of Australia, whiteman’s foot.
You will also find other types of tostones like tostones de pana, which are prepared with breadfruit instead of plantains. They are popular in Puerto Rico.
Try this tostones recipe, but beware, they are addictive!
This patacones recipe, like all our Colombian recipes, are now validated by Erica, our Colombian culinary expert. Find out more about Erica and her authentic Colombian recipes on her bilingual food blog.
- 4 green plantains
- Oil (for frying)
- Tostonera (plantain press)
Peel the plantains and cut each into 1 to 1½-inch (4 cm) sections.
- Plunge into a hot frying oil for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels.
Flatten each fried portion with a tostonera, wooden utensil used for crushing the segments into a flat circles. You can also flatten each portion of fried plantain between two boards lined with plastic wrap, to obtain ¼-inch (5 mm) thick flat pancakes.
Deep fry the plantain flat sections, in small batches, for about 4 minutes until they turn light golden. Pick them up with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels.
- Add a pinch of salt and serve hot.