Celebrate black history month with Mofongo

The Gillnetter’s Sheila Medrano shares her family recipe for a traditional Caribbean dish


Santiago Saldaña

Mofongo, prepared and plated by Julia Medrano, is a traditional Caribbean dish featuring plantains and shrimp.


Happy Black History Month!

I am back with another delicious dish from my culture to start off this month!

Mofongo is a traditional Caribbean dish that has Dominican and Puerto Rican roots. Plantain is a “fruit” that is used in many ways down the Caribbean. Plantains are smashed, fried, boiled, and served in many different ways. Mofongo is one of the many different ways that my Dominicans and Puerto Ricans get a  crunchy and soft plantain on their plate. 

Now, what exactly is Mofongo? Mofongo is plantains fried, and then smashed into a bowl form. The plantain bowls can be filled with chicharron (fried pork skin), shrimp, lobster, or anything saucy that would add a different flavor to the dish. 


Before I show my family’s version of Mofongo, here is a quick review of the History of Mofongo! 

As mentioned before Mofongo has roots in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Initially, just like Mangu, Mofongo is an idea that came to mind when West Africans came to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. When they brought Fufu over, the people had gotten creative with plantains and created Mofongo. This is the type of dish that is usually made on special occasions. With Mofongo, it is something that takes a little more time and is a meal that takes more care to make. You know it’s good when it has African, Taino, North American, and Spanish roots! 

My mother’s and my favorite way to eat Mofongo is with shrimp. The shrimp, drowning in its delicious sauce, is what really brings the Mofongo together. There are many ways to make Mofongo but here is how my family makes it!


For this meal, you will need plantains as the dish’s main component. You could stuff it with meat, eggs, really anything you’d like. Puerto Ricans love mashing mofongo with chicharron. Which is fried pork skin. My mom loves pairing mofongo with Shrimp.  The shrimp is what gives the Mofongo a special touch, that will make you fall in love at first bite. The shrimp, drowning in the savory sauce, is what brings the whole dish together. It is a mixture of different spices and sofrito. Sofrito is a mixture of vegetables and seasonings that is the base of seasoning for a lot of delicious dishes.  Other than these ingredients, you know we Caribbeans love to have some avocado on the side with our meals. The avocado provides a new flavor to the dish that brings us so much joy!

How to Make

  1. First, get a pack of shrimp and clean it with lemon juice and hot water
  2. After cleaning the shrimp, get a pan and add your seasonings (measure with your heart) 
    1. Black pepper
    2. Cayenne
    3. Oregano powder (1 tsp) 
    4. Doña Gallina Sopita (2 cubes)
  3. Then you want to add diced red/yellow/green pepper,  ¼ cup of diced onion, cilantro to taste, some diced celery, and some smashed garlic cloves. 
  4. Let that simmer and cook, and once you think it is incorporated enough add a 1-¼ cups of water
  5. Then, once you have your sauce, you can now add your shrimp
  6. While the shrimp is cooking  you can start peeling your plantains
  7. Once you have peeled about five or six plantains, cut the plantains into one-inch intervals. 
  8. This is the time when you can start heating up the oil, to fry your plantains. Be sure the oil is hot before you add the plantains. 
  9. After  six or seven minutes, get a spoon and tap the plantains, once they make a clapping sound they are ready.
  10. Take them out of the pan, and with a pilon (mortar and pestle) and smash about five of the pieces into a cup shape (This is the part where you would add chicharon, and fried garlic if you would like).
  11. After you have done that to all of the pieces, you can either fry it again, or start plating. 
  12. Now you are set to add the delicious shrimp in the cups of plantains and add a nice slice of avocado.