Mofongo (Spanish pronunciation: [moˈfoŋɡo]) is a Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains as its main ingredient. Plantains are picked green and fried, then mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil in a wooden pilón (mortar and pestle). The goal is to produce a tight ball of mashed plantains that will absorb the attending condiments and have either pork cracklings (chicharrón) or bits of bacon inside. It is traditionally served with fried meat and chicken broth soup. Particular flavors result from variations that include vegetables, chicken, shrimp, beef, or octopus packed inside or around the plantain orb.
|Place of origin||Puerto Rico|
|Main ingredients||Plantains, chicharrón, olive oil, and garlic|
|Variations||Fufu, Tacacho, Cayeye, Mangú|
|Other information||Popular throughout:|
New York City
Origin and historyEdit
Mofongo's roots lead to the African fufu, mixed with some Spanish and Taíno influences. Fufu is made from various starchy vegetables and was introduced to the Caribbean by Africans in the Spanish New World colonies such as Cuba (fufu de plátano and machuquillo), Dominican Republic (mangú), and Puerto Rico (mofongo and funche criollo) this also most likely includes Colombia (cayeye), Ecuador (bolón), Costa Rica (angú), Amazon region and Peru (tacacho).
The earliest known written recipes for mofongo appeared in Puerto Rico's first cookbook, El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño o Formulario, in 1859. The title of the recipe is mofongo criollo. Green plantains are cleaned with lemon, boiled with veal and hen, then mashed with garlic, Cuban orégano, ají dulce, bacon or lard, and ham. It is then formed into a ball and eaten with the broth which it was cooked in.
In El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño o Formulario there similar recipes. Funche criollo made from green or yellow plantains boiled with taro or yams, mashed and eaten with sesame broth soup or a sauce made from garlic, lard, tomato sauce, onions, and ají dulce (sofrito). Another is plátanos verdes asados. Green plantains cooked on coal and eaten with butter or lard and garlic.
The second recipe was written in 1948 by Elizabeth B.K. Dooley in Puerto Rican cookbook. The recipe calls for yellow plantains fried in lard, mashed with garlic, olive oil, chicarrón and formed into a ball. It would later be changed again with green plantains and half-ripe plantains fried and mashed with garlic, bacon, broth, and chicarrón in the 1950s in Puerto Rican cookbooks.
West African ethnic groups that populated Puerto Rico used the technique of a mallet to mash large amounts of starchy foods. The mash was then softened with liquids and fats. The word “mofongo” stems from the Angolan Kikongo term mfwenge-mfwenge, which means “a great amount of anything at all".
Mofongo evolved from fufu using the African method with vegetation available in the Caribbean. Plantains are most often used, but other starchy roots native to the island used by Taínos can also be used. Puerto Ricans have an obsession with fried food known collectively as cuchifrito in New York City and Kiosks in Puerto Rico. Spanish ingredients such as pork, garlic, broth, and olive oil are commonly used together in Puerto Rican cuisine and are found in staple dishes such as arroz con gandules, alcapurria, pasteles, habichuelas, recaíto, arroz junto, among others. The method of frying comes from the African side and is heavily used more than anyplace in the Caribbean. Broth is often made with chicken and sofrito. Sofrito is made with Spanish and Taíno fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Food trucks around Puerto Rico, Florida, New York, and other parts of the USA serve mofongo as a fast food available in food trucks. A popular version in Puerto Rico is papas locas, crazy fries. Mofongo is placed flat in to a takeaway container layered with French fries or yam fries, shredded meat or meats, chopped onions, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuces, corn, melted cheese, and Marie Rose sauce. Many vendors have their own additional toppings and condiments added to the standard toppings. A vegetarian version is possible replacing meat with eggplant.
Mofongo is widely known to Hispanics and is usually eaten in gatherings or socializing in restaurants. Before then mofongo was concentrated to Puerto Ricans as a remedy for any sickness. It was to believe the fat from the plantains and pork was good sources to gain back weight-loss from being sick. The raw garlic and broth worked together to "clean the blood" of any toxins and kill any virus in the body. Mofongo acted as bread and was placed on the side or in a big bowl of broth. A small amount of mofongo was placed on the spoon and swallowed with lots of broth on the same spoon. This made it easy for the sick person to eat, especially those with sore throats.
Plantains and/or starchy roots are cut about half an inch thick and deep-fried. When done, the plantains/roots are crisp outside, but dense inside. The plantains/roots are then mashed in a wooden mortar and pestle called a pilón made with mahogany or guaiacum, both native hardwoods. Broth, olive oil, garlic, and pork cracklings are added and mashed as well. The consistency of mofongo is much more stiff than fufu. In Africa, fufu is accompanied by a bowl of soup. In Puerto Rico, traditionally mofongo is accompanied by chicken broth soup, but braised meat has become more popular.
It is also common in Puerto Rico to make mofongo with cassava (mofongo de yuca), breadfruit (mofongo de pana), combination of breadfruit or cassava, with ripe and green plantains (trifongo), and ripe and green plantains (Bifongo or mofongo de amarillo).
Mofongo stuffed with shrimp (camarón in Spanish) is called camarofongo.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday that has been adopted by Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans' outside the commonwealth. Turkey is the main focus on every Thanksgiving table and is traditionally stuffed with bread. The bread stuffing can be mixed with mofongo or replaced entirely with mofongo. The dish is called pavochon.
Frito-Lay produces MoFongo Snax, a combined plantain chips, cassava chips and pork rinds into one bag.
Mofongo relleno is a stuffed variation of mofongo, which, according to Yvonne Ortiz, was first made in "Tino's Restaurant on the west coast of Puerto Rico" when seafood, abundant in the region, was placed inside the plantain ball with braised meat or more seafood poured over it. Nowadays, mofongo relleno is commonly stuffed with either seafood, poultry, or another meat.
Moca, Dominican Republic is known for making a mofongo with cheddar cheese shredded on top. It has been called mofongo Dominicano and mofongo el Mocano.
Cheese sauce[disambiguation needed] mofongo has been becoming more popular in Puerto Rico. This is most likely do to the Dominicans living on the island. The mofongo is typically topped with chicken or steak and cheese sauce is poured over the meat. Although cheese sauce mofongo is not seen in Dominican cuisine it is obvious that the mofongo el Mocano has had some influence.
Outside Puerto RicoEdit
During the 1960s many Dominicans who feared the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo fled to Puerto Rico and New York City. Mofongo caught on quickly with Dominicans living in Puerto Rico and New York City. Mofongo has become a flagship food for many Dominican restaurants. The first Dominican cookbook to have a written recipe of mofongo is Cocina Criolla, secound edition by Amanda Ornes, in 1962. The recipe is called "mafongo" using roasted green plantains mashed with chicarrón and oil. Its did not include its signature garlic, olive oil, and broth. The name mafongo would be only appear once as a title. Weather it was the actual title or miss print is unknown. Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York has said, "mofongo is a dish borrowed from Puerto Rico that has much success with Dominicans". Dominican chef Clara Gonzalez, also known as Aunt Clara, say in her cookbook, tradition Dominican cookery, "mofongo has a special place in the Dominicans' hearts and stomachs but can be traced back to Puerto Rico".
Bolón de verde is a similar dish in Ecuador. The dish appears much later in Ecuadorian cuisine. Plantains are boiled or roasted, mashed with chicarrón and cheese (queso blanco) formed into balls and fried.
Mofongo has become popular in high-end Latin restaurants and Pan-Latin restaurants. Mofongo is served with Peruvian ceviche, South American churrasco and chimichurri, Cuban ropa vieja, Colombian ajiaco, Méxican salsa verde and meat, and other comparable contexts.
In popular cultureEdit
Food Network chef and host Guy Fieri featured mofongo from Benny's Seafood (in Miami, Florida) and from El Bohio (in San Antonio, Texas) on two separate episodes of his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He liked the dish so much that he called it the "best fried thing I ever ate" on an episode of the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Anne Burrell is featured in a Season 2 episode of Chef Wanted with mofongo as the opening dish challenge.
An episode of the Travel Channel's Man v. Food Nation, set in Harlem, showed the host Adam Richman visiting a Spanish Harlem restaurant called La Fonda Boricua, where they make a giant 12-plantain mofongo called the Mofongaso.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations featured mofongo in Season 2, Episode 2: Puerto Rico where Bourdain and his friend Andy Diaz dine on mofongo at the beach. "That is just a tower of goodness," Bourdain said.
Mofongo is mentioned numerous times on the NBC TV Show Sanford & Son, when characters Fred and Lamont, (Redd Foxx and Desmond Wilson respectively) interact with their Puerto Rican neighbor Julio, (played by Gregory Sierra).
The National Day Archives organization, this is stated in a certification addressed to chef Mendin, where they proclaim September 24 of each calendar year, as a gastronomic event with mofongo, the traditional dish of Puerto Ricans.
- Torres, A. (2006). Latinos in New England (in Spanish). Temple University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-59213-418-2. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Carballo, Viviana (January 19, 2005). "Gusto! ; Plantains Carry Deep Roots of Tradition in Mofongo". Special to the Sentinel. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- Cordero Malavé, Deborah (2010). Plantain Hybrids: Fresh Market and Processing Characteristics. Mayaguez, PR: University of Puerto Rico , Mayaguez Campus. pp. 9, 41.
- Antonio Benítez Rojo (1996). The Repeating: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. James E. Maraniss (translation). Duke University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-8223-1865-2.
- Barradas, Efraín (2010). De Maeseneer, Rita; Collard, Patrick (eds.). Saberes y sabores en México y el Caribe (in Spanish). Boston: Brill. p. 269. doi:10.1163/9789042030459. hdl:1854/LU-1013097. ISBN 978-90-420-3045-9.
- Ortiz, Yvonne (1997). A Taste of Puerto Rico: Traditional and New Dishes from the Puerto Rican Community. Plume. ISBN 0452275482.
- Van Atten, Suzanne (2015). Moon San Juan, Vieques & Culebra. Avalon Travel. ISBN 978-1631212284.
- Video: Guy Fieri on Mofongo Archived 2011-11-25 at the Wayback Machine on Food Network