Here is a Daisy Martinez recipe that will send you off into a savory and sweet place.
Recipe: Sweet Plantain Canoes Filled with Shrimp Diablo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Sofrito (recipe follows)
2 canned chipotles in adobo (and the adobo sauce from the can that clings to them), finely chopped
1¼ teaspoons ground cumin
4 cups canned chopped tomatoes,
Kosher or fine sea salt
3½ pounds jumbo shrimp (about 12 per pound), peeled and deveined
2½ teaspoons chipotle chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lime, or as needed
Makes about 4 cups
2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
3 to 4 cubanelle or Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
7 to 10 ajíces dulces (see note at right)
4 culantro leaves (see note at right)
3 to 4 large ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
Combine the onions and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor and coarsely chop. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully: Spoon it into resealable plastic bags in 1-cup quantities.
Note: Ajices dulces, sometimes called ajicitos, are tiny peppers similar in appearance to habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers, but at the other end of the heat scale. They are sweet with a bright green, herbal flavor. Culantro is a leafy herb that smells and tastes like cilantro on steroids. Both ajices dulces and cilantro are available in Latin markets. If you cannot find one or both of them, simply leave them out and use 1½ bunches of cilantro.
1. Starting at the stem end of the concave side of each plantain, make a daisy-petal-shaped cut from the stem to the opposite end; the cut should be wider at the center and taper toward the two ends of the plantain. Cut just through the skin, but not into the plantain. Leave the cutout “petal” of skin in place until the plantains are cooked and ready for stuffing.
2. Soak 6 separate sheets of paper towels in warm water and squeeze out most of the excess water. (The paper towels should be wet, but not dripping wet.) Wrap each plantain in a sheet of paper towel and cook them all on high in the microwave oven until the flesh is creamy-looking, not dry and starchy (lift an end of the “petal” to check), 7 to 9 minutes, depending on how ripe the plantains are. It is likely some plantains will take longer than others. If some of the plantains aren’t ready after 7 minutes of cooking, dampen the paper towels again, rewrap the undercooked plantains, and continue cooking in 1-minute increments until they’re done.
3. Work with one plantain at a time and keep the rest covered with aluminum foil to keep them warm. Peel off the “petal” from each plantain and discard it, but leave the rest of the skin in place. With a paring knife, start at one end of the opening and cut the plantain in half lengthwise without cutting through the bottom skin. Gently separate the 2 halves of the plantain to make a pocket for the shrimp filling. Stand the plantains up on a baking sheet “petal” side up, and give them a firm little push so they stand on their own. Tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
4. Make the shrimp: Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sofrito and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sofrito starts to sizzle. Stir in the chipotles and cumin and stir until it smells wonderful – just about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a boil and adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Season lightly with salt and cook until the sauce is thickened (just enough liquid to cover the tomatoes), about 20 minutes. The sauce may be made to this point up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate in the saucepan and reheat to simmering over low heat.
5. Toss the shrimp and chipotle powder together in a bowl to coat the shrimp with the seasoning. The shrimp may be seasoned up to 2 hours before cooking. Refrigerate until needed.
6. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and toss until they begin to pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook just until the shrimp are opaque at the center, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice and season with salt and/or more lime juice to taste (if the sauce needs it).
7. Put each plantain onto a serving plate and spoon some of the shrimp and sauce into each. Serve immediately.
From “Daisy’s Holiday Cooking” by Daisy Martinez with Chris Styler. Copyright 2010 by Daisy Martinez. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.