Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ensalada de Aguacate (Cuban Avocado Salad)

Here is a very typical, traditional, simple Cuban salad. In my house we go crazy for avocados we love them especially served how I will show you here.

Here in Southern California we have wonderful creamy "Hass" avocodoes, they are very creamy and have the highest fat content making them delicious and rich, in Florida (were most of the Cuban community is) they grow different avocados, they are very large and big avocados, but less creamy, non the less we still love them to. My grandmother (my Tata) calls the rich Avocados "Aguacate's de Leche" translates to "Milk Avocado" and the one's with less fat content and are lighter and more "watered" in taste she calls "Aguacate's de Agua" translates to "Water Avocado" probably doesn't make sense in English.

Sometimes in the stores here usually at the small "Bodeguitas" that carry some Cuban products or at Filipino stores I can find the big Florida Avocados, 1 big Florida Avocado can make a big salad or feed 4 people or even more.

I think the Avocados of Cuba where giant big Avocados like the one's from Florida, anyways regardless of anything these large Avocados are awesome they have their own unique goodness.

-1 large Florida Avocado (you can substitute for 4 regular Avocados more or less)
-2 big fat tomatoes (optional)
-1 red onion (I didn't have it so I used a Yellow Onion, the onion is optional)
-4 juicy Limes
-salt to taste

(1)Cut tomato into rounds, and use as a bed on a large plate

(2)Cut avocado in half, then cut out wedges, then peel it, and cut into desired size of long wedge (the large Florida Avocados have to be cut like this they are not like the Hass one's that you have to spoon out)

(3)Now slice onion into very thin rounds, and place thin rounds over avocado to decorate.

(4)Squeeze over the salad lots of lime juice, and sprinkle generously with salt to taste.

Please Note:
(1)Most Cuban salads are just dressed in lime and salt, if it's a tossed salad with leafy greens olive oil is added to the lime and salt.

(2)The only important thing in the salad is the avocado you can do it with just avocado if you wish and squeeze lime and salt over.

Arañitas de Platano (Shredded Green Plantain Fritters)

Okay I saw this in the Cuban cookbook "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen" and I have also seen this recipe online, it comes up all over the place. I've seen some that add grated ginger or garlic, sometimes both, other's do it plain. Other's infuse the oil with garlic then fry these fritters.

Not sure if this is "Cuban" I don't think it is, I have never seen this in Cuban cooking, maybe it's a Puerto Rican thing? Or other Carribean or African thing? Or heck maybe it's part of that weird "Nouveau Cuban Cuisine" I am not fond of (honestly don't mess with tradition if it's already good).

Whatever it is these fritters are delicious and any Cuban would like them.

Here is how I make them after reading around.

-2 green plantains
-4 cloves garlic
-salt to taste
-oil to pan-fry or deep-fry

(1)Mash garlic to a paste in a mortar with some salt.

(2)Grate the plantains on the medium holes of a grater, when all are grated mix well with garlic

(3)Heat oil on medium high heat until hot, then with a spoon grab some of the shredded plantain mixture, press slightly and slide into the hot oil it will crisp fry until golden brown on each side, carefully turn with a fork or with whatever you can.

(4)Put them to drain on a plate with paper towels or paper bags and sprinkle lightly with salt.

So the ratio I use is for every 1 green plantain I use 2 cloves of garlic.

I served it with some Cuban Sandwiches I made with leftover lechon and a avocado salad, for dessert we had some "Pastelitos de Guayaba" (Guava Strudels), serve with whatever you want.