How to Make the Best Mangu
When you think about pizza, your mind would naturally run to Italian cuisine, and in the case of enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas, Mexico would naturally come to mind. In the same vein, the mere mention of ceviche would make you remember Peru, and Sushi cannot help but scream Japan! However, the aforementioned are not the only countries with a national dish as other countries like the Dominican Republic are blessed with their own culinary kings. mangu is one of such dishes, and it dominates the Dominican cuisine. The word mangu literally means mashed plantain, tasty, mouthwatering dish that is a national pride to the Dominicans; pretty sure any citizen of the country will attest to that. Besides, if you have not yet tasted a steaming plate of mangu, then you are yet to experience a real Latin American dish. If we’ve managed to convince you and you’re curious how to make the best mangu, join us as we X-ray this special Dominican dish, providing with some top preparation tips.
What Is Mangu/The History of Mangu
As earlier established, mangu is the signature dish of the Dominican Republic. It is made with mashed plantain and the dish takes pride of place in the country’s cuisine and is best regarded as the Official Breakfast Dish of the Dominicans. Plantain is one of the staple foods of the region which is a versatile ingredient used in many dishes. You are not likely to go wrong with plantain thanks to its mouthwatering tast. No doubt, people from the Caribbean, are already aware of the fact that plantain, especially the green ones, have the tendency to show up in several dishes. It can appear as roasted, boiled, baked, fried; you name it. What’s more, it is always delicious despite the preparation method.
The origin of the name of this delicious meal is traceable to the region of the Congo during the period of the slave trade. The inhabitants of Congo were known with a similar dish, which they normally prepared with boiled plantain, but in their own case, the dish was referred to as mangusi. One version of the tale led us to believe that the word mangu emanated from this West African term mangusi, which is taken to mean any ‘mashed vegetables from the earth’.
Another version of the tale revealed that the term mangu originated in 1916 when the Dominican Republic was invaded by the Americans. Afterward, the marauding American soldiers would move into town. Then, one day, it happened that one of the raiding soldiers tasted some of the mashed plantain that the locals were eating. As he had his first bite, the American exclaimed, “Man, this is good,” and later pointed at it a second time saying in short, “man good!” The naïve locals just made the connection between the soldier’s words and what he just tasted, and thus they just concluded that the English name for the dish was ‘mangu’.
Conveniently, the tale failed to mention the particular American occupation. By the time we saw the second American occupation forces in 1965, several Dominican authors have already written about mangu dating back decades from the initial occupation. However, none of the publications made mention of the ostensible origin of the term.
As for the major ingredient plantain, it came from the Canary Islands into Santo Domingo around the early part of the 1500s, which was about ten years after the initial African slaves. By then, Plantain was already an established crop in all of West Africa. Besides, several mashed plantain dishes were already part of the West African gastronomy. We saw the likes of Matoke, as well as Fufu, which is still a surviving dish in Cuba.
Having established the history and origins of mangi, let’s now take a look at some cooking do’s and don’ts before diving into the mangu recipe.
The only plantains recommended for making mangu are the green ones (unripe plantain). Anything apart from the unripe plantain is not mangu. Besides, you should avoid using the green plantain that is already getting ready to ripen. These will not work as well.
- Add some salt to your plantain before boiling, but ensure that the salt is just right so that the meal does not turn out to be over-salted.
- If you want to retain the softness of the mangu for long, then you should make use of cold water as opposed to the water from the boiled plantain to mash.
- While in the process of peeling the plantain, have a bowl of cold water handy; submerge each of them as you peel – this will stop them from oxidizing and changing color.
- Don’t make your mangu with sweet plantain as that is a totally different meal.
- Don’t allow your mangu dish to grow cold before you eat it.
- While you are peeling the plantain, be sure not to omit any residue from the plantain’s skin – this will only change the color of the water into black, which is not very good. However, it is still ok if the residue is reduced to the barest minimum, so it does not affect the water.
How to Make Mangu Recipe – Ingredients and Recipe Instructions
Getting set to prepare the delicious mangu means that you should assembly all the major ingredients required for the dish. Below are the most important ones which are meant for preparing six servings of the official Dominican foodl;
- Onion – get one red bulb, and slice all into rings.
- Salt – enough to taste.
- Vinegar – a cup full ( this is equivalent to 240 mL).
- Plantain – six fingers of sizeable ones.
- Water – five cup (this is approximately one litter).
- Frying oil – a couple of cups of canola oil (divided).
- Dominican frying cheese – 12 slices (This is called queso de freir).
- All-purpose flour – one cup (this is approximately 125 g).
- Dominican salami – 18 slices (this is also called salami frito).
- Butter – six tablespoons.
- Eggs – six big eggs ( this will be fried and used for the serving)
- Avocado – one sizeable avocado which will also be for serving.
The preparation process for this mouthwatering dish is a simple one to follow. Once you have succeeded in assembling all the necessary ingredients, just follow the steps listed below;
- Get a medium-sized bowl and place the already sliced onions with vinegar, and a pinch of salt. This should be allowed enough time to soak for about an hour while you get all the other things ready.
- Proceed to get the peels off the six fingers of plantain, and cut all into quarters. The cut plantain should go into a pot big enough to take them, and enough water should be poured into the pot to cover the plantain by an inch. After adding the salt, cook the plantain over heat for about half an hour; continue to check on it to make sure that they are tender before bringing the pot down.
- In the meantime, you should get a medium-sized skillet and use it in heating 420 M or 1¾ cups of canola oil to about 180°C or 350°F.
- Now, get the Dominican frying cheese and coat all in the all-purpose flour, start placing them in the hot oil to fry for about three minutes, or you can fry them until you get an even golden brown on both sides. Your paper-lined plate should be ready to receive the fried cheese as you get them off the fire.
- Now, start frying the salami by adding another tbsp of oil to the already hot skillet. The salami should be fried until they come out brown as well as crispy. Four minutes is ok for the salami to be ready, then, place them on a plate lined with paper towels.
- The skillet should be wiped out, and another tbsp of oil should be added to the pan. And now it is time to pour in the already prepared onion along with their soaking liquid. Sauté for like ten minutes till the onions become tender, and the color changes to bright pink.
- Continue checking on the boiling plantain, and once they are tender, get them off the fire, and put everything in a separate big bowl while the starchy boiling liquid is left on the stove to retain its warmth.
- Before you start to mash the plantain, put in the butter along with 240 ml, or one cup of the simmering starchy liquid from the plantain. Mash everything together until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, and remember to add more liquid as you go – this will aid you in achieving an even smoothness.
- Now the mangu is good and ready, and you can choose to serve it with fried salami, fried cheese, fried eggs, and avocado. And remember to garnish your mangu with pickled onions.
- Dig in and Enjoy!
How to Reheat Mangu
Mangu dish is best eaten hot; however, if you happen to have some leftovers, don’t try to eat it cold as they are known to harden with coldness. Your best option is to reheat the mangu before eating. The process involved in reheating cold mangu is quite easy, just put it in a pot and place over the fire, continue to mash the mangu as you reheat, and remember to add some water to soften it.