To those who do not know, Dodo is not the name of a bird in Nigeria, its the name of a simple dish made by frying ripe plantains. Dodo is loved by everyone in Nigeria, it is a popular staple, usually served with a wide range of other foods like rice, beans, served also with stews etcetera.
So there is a debate that goes on in every Nigerian household about how well cooked your dodo is...! At least, I have stumbled on several of such debates..., and certainly in my household, every time we have fried plantains aka dodo, my husband is forever questioning, is this dodo well cooked?
So I have come to the conclusion that we all have our preferences on how well cooked we want our dodo, y'know like you have your stake, rare, medium rare or well done.
Some like their dodo to be just cooked with the characteristic yellow tone. This they say is the best way to have dodo because the plantain does not have to be in hot oil for any longer than it should, as this will significantly increase the amount of oil absorbed by the resulting dodo. At this stage the dodo is considered to be "just cooked", or "cooked enough". There is a Yoruba name for this, its called ofooro...
Others want to see that even golden brown colour on the dodo, which to them is the indication that the plantain is well done.
And others, example my husband, want to see that the dodo has a dark brown colour, insisting that, that is the only indication that the dodo is well cooked through.
In reality, cooking sliced plantain (dodo) in hot oil for as little as 2-3 minutes is usually enough to cook them. Additional time allowed helps to brown them...! It is important to note that there are certain factors must be considered.
Cooking Dodo Perfectly
Perfection really is personal, but to achieve perfection, here are a few things to bear in mind.
Temperature: the number one factor to consider while making dodo is the temperature of your oil. The oil must be heated up to a moderate temperature level that is not too hot or not hot enough before adding the sliced plantains. A little trick that I use is to drop a few slices of onions into the hot oil. If the onions float to the surface, that is a good indication that the oil is hot enough.
Thickness of the plantain slices is also a factor. If they are too thick, cooking time is prolonged and for inexperienced cooks, the plantain may not cook through which leaves a situation where the plantain is raw inside.
Shallow or Deep frying: shallow frying is when the food you are frying is only partially submerged in the hot oil while deep frying requires complete submerging of the food in oil. There are advantages and disadvantages for either methods. Deep frying ensures even cooking because the food is receiving heat from all directions. But with shallow frying, the food is only cooked from the area of contact with the oil and there is a need for flipping the food regularly to achieve even cooking. Also some argue that foods that are deep fried soak up more oil than those that are shallow fried.
Type of oil used is also a key factor to getting your dodo to cook perfectly. Oils such as coconut oil with very high smoke points are ideal and are more nutritionally beneficial than using regular commercial vegetable oils.Please note, extra virgin olive oil should not be used for high temperature cooking.
Stage of ripeness of the plantain:The ripeness of the plantain determines the sugar content. The riper the plantain the sweeter. The higher the sugar content of the plantain the quicker it is to caramelize and brown during cooking.
What Causes Dodo to Brown
Dodo gets is characteristic brown colour through a process called caramilization of the sugar in the plantain. Controlled caramelization is actually quite desirable and can be used to enhance taste and visual appeal of the food. But over caramelization can ruin your food with a resultant black burnt appearance and an unpleasant bitter taste.
The longer the dodo cooks, the more caramelized it becomes, turning it darker and bitter. Very ripe plantain caramelizes quicker due to high sugar content.
So I ask you, put your response in the comments, using the Dod'OMeter scale from a to g, when is your dodo cooked enough..?