What Is Mofongo, the Puerto Rican Plaintain Specialty?

Did you know that the number one source of starches in Puerto Rico comes from plantains?

One of the best ways to enjoy plantains is via a traditional Puerto Rican dish, mofongo.

So what is mofongo and why should you give it a try? Dig into the info below to find out.

What is Mofongo?

If you’ve never tasted mofongo for yourself, it can be a little tough to describe.

Sliced and whole ripe plantains
Ripe Plantains for Mofongo

Think of it as Puerto Rico’s answer to mashed potatoes. It tends to be just as hearty and filling as mashed potatoes but with a nice subtle sweet flavor thanks to the ripe plantains.

The base of the dish is a heaping portion of mashed and fried plantains. Some people also like to put chicken, steak, crab, shrimp, lobster or vegetables inside the mash which then makes tis Puerto Rican dish, Mofongo Relleno.

While it can be served alone, most Puerto Rican mofongo recipes call for adding meat or vegetables on top. Traditionally, Puerto Rican mofongo is topped with fried pork skins.

History of Mofongo

Like most good dishes, mofongo is the product of several heritages and cultural inspirations.

Fufu African Dish served on red plate on Woden table
African Dish Fufu

Specifically, mofongo owes its creation to an African dish called fufu, which is a dough-like mixture of plantains, water, butter, and oil.

African slaves brought the dish with them to Puerto Rico and the locals immediately latched on to the dish, wasting no time in experimenting with new recipes.

Namely, it was the Puerto Ricans who came up with the idea of frying the plantains in oil and adding toppings.

Fufu served a purpose not unlike naan bread, ie, mopping up soups and stews. The plantains in mofongo, however, took center stage.

Making Your Own Mofongo

Making your own mofongo can be a time-consuming process, but boy is it worth it.

To start, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Four to six ripe plantains.
  • Two cups of oil.
  • Four teaspoons of olive oil.
  • Three mashed garlic cloves.
  • The desired amount of pork skin/seafood/vegetables.

Slice the plantains into paper-thin slices (this makes them easier to mash) and place them into the piping hot oiled skillet. Cook until they’re lightly browned (about 10 minutes on medium heat).

Next, mash the fried plantains with a mortar and pestle and introduce the garlic.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, you used to cook the plantains, crisp up your pork skins or cook your topping of choice.

Once your toppings are cooked, mold the plantains. Patties or spheres are traditional. Just make sure there’s plenty of room for your topping.

Add the plantains to a plate, top, and season with salt, pepper, and a hint of lime juice.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy!

Note that you can also serve it in a bowl alongside a soup or broth. Doing so adds a whole other layer of flavor, as the plantains soak up some of the liquid.

Sweet and Savory: Mofongo Brings The Best of Both Worlds

As we wrap up, let’s ask once again, what is mofongo?

Mofongo is a wonderful dish that represents centuries of Puerto Rican history. It’s sweet, savory, and most of all, delicious!

Next time you’re in a Puerto Rican restaurant or want to try cooking something new, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Looking to make the most of your leftover plantains? Check out some other fun plantain dishes you can make!

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