Mofongo is a Spanish word for a traditional Puerto Rican dish. Mofongo is composed primarily of fried plantains. This typical Caribbean dish is made of green, hard and unripe plantains. Plantains are in the banana family and are commonly referred to as the cooking bananas. The key component of a great Mofongo dish is making sure the plantains are unripe.
Mofongo is very popular in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and nearby islands where Puerto Rican natives can be located. Mofongo can be made multiple ways and we will dive deep into different Mofongo recipes further down. Mofongo is basically a tight ball of mashed unripe plantains that absorb certain ‘fillings’ typically pork cracklings, bits of bacon, vegetables, fried meat, seafood, all served above a bed of a flavorful broth.
Below, we breakdown our favorite uses of the wonderfully scrumptious Puerto Rican dish Mofongo.
The History of Mofongo
There is a plentiful amount of reasons why we love Mofongo. The dish is delicious, full of flavor and undeniably reminiscent of cultures lived. Mofongo is seemingly exotic in the Americas but can be widely found throughout Puerto Rico and Central American countries. Mofongo grows its roots in the Western African Fufu, fused with Spanish and Taíno inspirations.
African fufu uses starchy vegetables and was introduced into the Caribbean by African peoples into the Spanish New World in places like the Dominican Republic (mangú), Cuba (fufu de plátano) and then in Puerto Rico (mofongo). Mofongo contains starchy root vegetables and plantains that are boiled and then mashed with other ingredients.
There is a famous chef and author named Clara Gonzalez ‘Aunt Clara’ from the Dominican Republic. In her cookbook about traditional Dominican cooking, she references Mofongo being a staple of the Dominican people’s diets. She states though that the dish is definitely has its origins in Puerto Rico.
The classic Puerto Rican dish mofongo was evolved from the African dish fufu but with a Spanish flavor and twist. Puerto Ricans absolutely love fried food – fried plantains, fried meats, fried vegetables and pretty much anything that can be fried in oils. Mofongo offers yummy fried pork cracklings, veggies, garlic, meat broths, olive oil and other staple Puerto Rican ingredients.
Top 5 Mofongo Recipes
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
For the broth:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound beef bones, any type
2 cloves garlic
4 cups water
1 sprig cilantro
¼ teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
For the mofongo:
1-cup oil for frying (corn, peanut or soy)
5 unripe plantains peeled and cut into 2 centimeter slices
1-pound pork cracklings cut into 2.5 centimeter slices
2 tablespoons garlic
1 ½ teaspoons salt
For the broth:
Heat your oil in a deep centered pot over medium heat. Brown your meat and pay very close attention so that it does not burn. Throw in in your halved onion and garlic and heat with the meat. Pour in your water, cilantro and oregano spice.
Simmer this meat mixture for an over on very low heat. Top off the mix with water every so often to maintain the same level of broth. Season the broth with salt to your desired taste.
For the mofongo:
Heat your desired oil over medium heat and fry your unripe plantains until they are golden brown throughout their surface area. Usually this takes just a few minutes, up to five minutes. Use a wooden mortar (pilón) to mash the fried plantains with the garlic and pork cracklings.
This step is very important for the reason that you have to do this is small batches – it will not come out correctly if you try to mash it all at once. Shape into six balls and place in small bowls. Serve your mofongo in a bowl with a scoop of the bone broth you created.
You have to have a vegan version of every dish these days and mofongo is no exception. Even though mofongo is filled with almost all animal products, there is still a way to make it vegan and yummy at the same time. Impress your vegan friends or wow your meat eater friends with this animal-free twist on a Puerto Rican classic.
Time: 1 hour
5 large unripe plantains
8 oz. can organic tomato sauce
2 handfuls cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons homemade sofrito
I clove garlic, minced
1 packet sazon seasoning
½ cup vegetable broth to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
To make this delicious vegan mofongo dish, first fill a quart-sized pot with water and boil plantains with a pinch of salt. Boil the plantains until you can easily poke a fork through them, or about twenty-five minutes. Using a mortar and pestle, mash your boiled plantains, tomato sauce, cilantro, sofrito, half of the olive oil, garlic and sazon.
Introduce the rest of the olive oil and enough vegetable broth to ensure that the mofongo mixture can stick together but also that it is not super slippery and can stay together. Season your mofongo with salt and ground black pepper. Serve the warm dish on a small bowl of vegetable broth and enjoy.
Time: 40 minutes
5 green unripe plantains
1-pound jumbo shrimp (from Puerto Rico if you can find!)
½ homemade sofrito
¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup garlic, mince
½ cup small cubed tocino or bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup water
½ teaspoon cumin
1-teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
The first step to completely succeed at this mofongo with shrimp is to peel and cut your plantains into one-inch pieces and set into a bowl of cold water so that they do not oxidize. Drain the plantains and dry with a towel and then heat your oil at a medium heat level. Fry your plantains for about five minutes, or until perfectly golden brown!
Remove the plantains from the oil and cook the bacon until it is perfectly crispy. Mix together the olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper. Next up is the shrimp. Clean and season your shrimp with basic salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon of oil of your choice (canola works great) and when it is nice and hot, throw in the sofrito and tomatoes.
Cook for three minutes and then add your paprika and cumin. Cook for two more minutes and then add your water, salt and pepper and then once this mixture is bubbling, add your shrimp. Lower the temperature level and cook your shrimp for about eight minutes until the sauce is nice and thickened. Turn off the heat.
Now, you must refry your plantains (yes- fry them again!) for eight minutes. Remove the plantains, add your bacon and then use a mortar and pestle to mash the plantains in small batches while simultaneously adding the bacon. Mix in the garlic and olive oil to finish it off.
Now, for the fun part – to construct the mofongo balls. In an oven safe bowl, you will add half of your cooked shrimp and half of the plantain mix. Form into a dome shape about the size of your small bowl and leave the bottom inside shallow. Place on top of a shrimp stew and bake for fifteen minutes at 400 degrees. Serve hot with a side of the shrimp sauce left in the pan.
This amazing stuffing dish takes the Puerto Rican classic dish mofongo and fuses it with the ever-loved Thanksgiving side of stuffing. This casserole version of mofongo is a unique and very simple twist on the Puerto Rican classic dish. We found it too delicious to not add to the list!
Time: 1.5 hours
6 green plantains
Coconut or vegetable oil for frying
6 strips of thick-sliced slab bacon
¾ cup sofrito
1/3-cup olive oil
1-cup chicken broth, as needed for taste
You will start by heating up four inches of oil in a five-quart pot for frying. You will need the oil to be at 375 degrees for a perfect frying atmosphere. Peel your plantains and slice into about 2 centimeter oval-shaped pieces. When your oil hits 375 degrees, fry the slices of plantains for about three minutes until golden brown.
Remove with a spoon of sorts and let drain for two minutes (do not turn off your heat source). Use a bottom of a glass or a roller to smash each fried plantain slice into a flat patty-like shape. Then you will throw your flattened plantain pieces back into the hot oil and fry for two more minutes. Remove plantains and drain excess oil. Dice up your thick-sliced bacon and cook until crisp. Set aside the bacon for later.
In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to break up the plantains. Add your homemade sofrito, cooked bacon, 1/3 cup of olive oil and then stir the mixture together. Slowly add in chicken broth at a rate of about ¼ cup at a time as you slowly and carefully mix everything together. The mixture should be moist but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to desired taste.
The great thing about this stuffing dish is that you can serve it immediately as is or you can keep it in the fridge overnight and reheat for fifteen minutes at 350 degrees. If you choose to reheat the next day, definitely feel free to add a little chicken broth to maintain the proper stuffing consistency.
Get With Mofongo!
Mofongo is a classic and delicious Puerto Rican dish. We hope that these recipes inspired you to get back to your roots or completely step out of your food comfort zone and try something new! Either way, these mofongo dishes will bring you comfort, yumminess and a chance to taste the Puerto Rican culture.