By softening green plantains in gently simmering water, and smashing them afterward, you’ll be priming this versatile starch to soak up every ounce of flavor from a lemongrass, ginger, and coconut broth. When topped with caramelized onions, the mash works incredibly well with braised vegetables, stews, or any cooked protein. Serve this dish warm, which is when the flavors are at their peak. Leftovers can be refrigerated and gently rewarmed with additional coconut milk. To cut down on the cooking time, caramelize the onions and make the steeped broth ahead of time (which will keep in the fridge for up to three days).
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add in the sliced onions. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, about 10–12 minutes. Drain the onions on a plate lined with paper towels and reserve any leftover frying oil.
- Cut the lemongrass stalk into 3-inch pieces, and crush each piece using the back of your knife. In a medium pot, combine the lemongrass, coconut milk, and ginger. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Once the liquid begins to simmer, turn off the heat, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Allow the mixture to steep while you make the plantains.
- Trim the ends of the plantains and discard them. Peel by cutting a slit down the length of the skin with a knife. Use your fingers or a spoon to peel back and remove the skin from the pale-yellow flesh. Cut each plantain into 3 pieces.
- Wipe out the saucepan, add in the plantains, and cover with water up to an inch above the surface. Season with salt, bring up to a boil, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the plantains until softened all the way through, about 15–18 minutes. Drain off any excess water and return the pot to low heat. Use a fork or a potato masher to crush the plantains into a slightly chunky puree.
- Strain the flavored coconut milk into the mashed plantains and discard the solids. Add in the zest and juice of a lime and stir to incorporate to a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Transfer to a bowl or plates and top with the caramelized onion. Drizzle some of the reserved onion oil on top with additional slices of lime for squeezing.
Yewande Komolafe is a writer, recipe developer and food stylist from Lagos, Nigeria. She develops recipes that lend taste and texture to her experience as an immigrant in the United States. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter and many jars of spices.