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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mofongo with Mango Rum Glazed Shrimp

On our last visit to Puerto Rico, we had a tapas lunch at La Ostra Cosa in Old Jan Juan just yards away  from San Juan Cathedral, and the tomb of Ponce De Leon.  It was a beautiful restaurant with a courtyard that served Spanish and Puerto Rican fare.  We ordered garlic-buttered clams, mussels, and on the advice of our server,...mofongo, a fried and mashed plantain side dish. It was incredible!   Crispy, buttery, and full of pork flavor.  It was the kind of dish you always remember.  The aroma.  The flavor.  The way it feels in your mouth.  With all the beauty of Old San Juan on that blue-sky day, mofungo was the lasting memory.

I have tried to make it and duplicate it here.  Never really turned out right.

I ran into a friend yesterday who had just returned from a family visit to Puerto Rico.  We started talking, and as with most of my conversations, the talking eventually led to food.  I mentioned my love of mofongo, and my failure to reproduce it as we had it in Old San Juan.  The secret, she said, was green un-ripe plantains. Who knew? I had assumed very ripe plantains were needed for mash-abilty.

She gave me very detailed instructions on how to make mofongo.  Armed with this knowledge, I was determined to make it for dinner.

I peeled the green plantains under ice-cold water, cut them into slices, panfried them until they were golden brown, and crushed them into tostones.  I then sauteed onions, garlic, and bacon (in bacon fat) until translucent and tender, added them to the mashed plantains, fried them again, and pressed them into bowls to form.
This is mofongo.

They serve it in many ways throughout Puerto Rico: in soups & stews, as a starchy side dish, filled with chicken or beef, or topped with seafood.

I served it with a mango rum-glazed shrimp, using mango rum we had recently purchased in St. Kitts.  I reduced the rum with lime zest, lime juice, cane sugar, and molasses until it was a transparent amber glaze.
After pan-searing the shrimp and placing it around the mofongo, I drizzled the rum glaze over the shrimp.

Sliced avacado, roma tomatoes, purple onions to the side gave it an island burst of freshness.  Finished with cilantro and lime zest for floral acidity.
It was good.  It was really good.

However, Nothing could ever compare to having it on a hot summer day in old San Jaun, in a courtyard restaurant, with purple bougainvillea petals  falling down like snow.  Onto our plates.  Into our drinks.

And totally into our souls.   That was mofongo

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