Colombian Kitchen: Patacones con Hogao

Pan-fried green plantains are a common comfort food all across Colombia, eaten as either an appetizer or snack, and sometimes as a side to a full meal. While we call them patacones, you may have heard them referred to as tostones in other parts of Latin America. In Colombia one of the most common ways to enjoy patacones is with hogao, a simple but rich sauce of tomatoes and onions that you simply scoop on top—it makes for an excellent pasaboca (light meal or snack).

Photo courtesy of Ocean Malandra.

I live in a house full of Colombians here in the center of Bogota, and the current stay-at-home measures have given us a lot of free time to cook. And that’s a great thing! So here is a recipe for real deal patacones con hogao as shown to me right in my home kitchen by my Bogotano roomies. It’s a traditional recipe that is easy to make and I guarantee it will be a hit with your friends and family!

Patacones con Hoago

Feeds 4-6 people

Four green (unripe) plantains
Two tomatoes
Two onions
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil (coconut is best!)

The trick to real patacones is the double-fried technique, which makes the green plantains perfectly crispy and delicious.
Photo courtesy of Ocean Malandra.

Step One: Using a good sharp knife, cut the ends of the plantain off. Then cut a line down the length of the plantain, being careful not to cut the fruit but just the peel. This allows you to remove the peel with your fingers and uncover the entire fruit.

Step Two: Now cut each plantain into about four pieces, three to four inches long. Try to make them as uniform in size as possible.

Step Three: Heat up some cooking oil in a pan until it is slightly boiling and popping. Then place each piece of plantain in the oil standing on end. When one side has browned a bit, turn it over onto the other side. When both sides have browned, remove the piece from the pan.

Step Four: Here comes the authentic secret. Use a plate and a piece of plastic to smash each piece of plantain flat. Give it a slight twist to keep the plantain from falling apart. This might take a bit of practice and you might sacrifice one or two pieces in the process, but you’ll get there!

Step Five: Now place each smashed plantain back in the hot oil and cook until it is browned on both sides. Then remove and place on a plate. You now have Colombian style patacones!

Now, on to the hogao:

Photo courtesy of Ocean Malandra.

Step One: Dice the onions and tomatoes finely and then cook them in a bit of oil, separate from the plantains.

Step Two: Stir frequently and add salt and pepper to taste. Colombians often add a spice called color, which is made from an herb called achiote, to give this sauce a rich taste. You can use a bit of saffron or turmeric to give the hogao a similar color or flavor, but only if you like.

Plate your patacones, and dig in!