Mangú Dominicano features boiled mashed green platanos topped with tangy red onions. Paired perfectly with fried cheese and salami, it’s the flavorful centerpiece of the famous Dominican breakfast, los tres golpes.
Growing up, I only had a sweet tooth for fried sweet plantains. It took me a few years to appreciate them in their savory form, but now mangu is one of my favorite savory plantain dishes, right up there with tostones.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Delicious and creamy: Mangu is rich but mild in taste, making it a great side dish for lots of flavorful island dishes. I share a trick for achieving the creamiest and softest mangu further down in the post!
- Simple to make: You won’t need any fancy tools, ingredients or techniques to make mangu – just a masher (or fork), plantains, onions, butter and salt. Plantains are easy to find in most chain supermarkets these days and you can also find them in most Latin, African, and Asian markets.
- Budget friendly: Like many island recipes, this one relies on a few basic staple ingredients that go a long way and don’t cost much.
What is Mangu?
Mangu, a Dominican classic, is a savory dish made from boiled and mashed green plantains. Known for its rich flavor and creamy texture, it is traditionally topped with onions and served con los tres golpes – a famous trio featuring queso frito (fried cheese), fried salami, and fried eggs.
Mangu’s origin traces back to West Africa, brought to the Caribbean by African slaves. Some suggest that the name mangu is linked to “mangusi,” a Congolese term for mashed vegetables. Another theory connects the name to the English expression ‘man, that’s good,’ shouted by American soldiers after trying the dish for the first time in the Dominican Republic.
Ingredients: What is mangu made of?
Mangu is made using just a few basic ingredients. Refer to the recipe card for specific quantities and measurements.
- Green plantains – you’ll need unripe plantains to make mangu. Unripe plantains are green and color and should be used within a day or two of being bought. You can buy a few extra days by storing them in the refrigerator to keep them from ripening.
- Butter – I like to use salted, room temperature butter for the creamiest and most flavorful mangu. No big deal if you use cold butter though, the warm plantains will melt it.
- Sliced onions – sautéed red onions are my favorite part of this dish! They’re soaked and then cooked in mojo (an acidic marinade made with vinegar, olive oil, garlic, sugar, and fresh lime juice), and placed on top of the mangu just before serving.
- Salt is added to the plantain water and is used sparingly to season the mangu as you’re mashing it.
Unless you need to buy plantains, mangu shouldn’t require a trip to the market. Feel free to adapt based on what you have on hand. Here are some suggestions that can help:
- For vegan-friendly mangu, try using olive oil or margarine instead of butter. They’re both plant-based and make a very soft mangu.
- Instead of red onions, you can use white or yellow onions instead.
- White vinegar can replace apple cider vinegar in this recipe.
- Feel free to omit sugar, lime, and garlic. I use these to flavor the onions, but they’re not necessary for authentic mangu.
- I once experimented with milk instead of water in mangú, and it did NOT go well. The distinct flavor was lost, and it just didn’t taste good. Stick with water for authentic and delicious mangu.
How to make mangú Dominicano
You can find all the steps and measurements listed in the recipe card. Here’s a closer look at each step with pictures:
Step 1: Prepare the onions and mojo
Place the sliced onions in a bowl. In another cup or small bowl, mix the apple cider vinegar with the sugar, lime juice and olive oil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the onions and let sit while you peel and boil the plantains.
Step 2: Peel and slice the plantains
Trim off both ends of each plantain. Use a sharp knife to score long the ridges of the plantain, making sure not to cut into the plantain itself. Use the knife’s blade to help lift the peel from the flesh, and then use your fingers to remove the peel completely. Slice the plantains into 1 to 2-inch long pieces, and then cut each of these pieces in half lengthwise.
Step 3: Boil the plantains
Rinse the plantains and place them in a pot, covering them with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and stir. Boil over medium-high heat for 30 minutes until the plantains are soft enough that you can easily pierce them with a fork. Move on to the next step while the plantains are boiling.
Step 4: Cook the onions
Begin this step when the plantains have 5-10 minutes left to boil. Transfer the sliced onions and mojo liquid to a small saucepan, adding the garlic. Cook the onions in the mojo for 5-10 minutes until they become tender but still maintain a slight crispiness. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan to keep the onions warm.
Step 5: Mashing the plantains
Once the plantains are soft, drain them, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Place the plantains back in the pan, add butter, and mash until smooth and creamy. Gradually add reserved water (with a few teaspoons of mojo if desired), mixing until you achieve your desired texture. For a thinner, softer mangu, add more water. Season with extra salt if needed.
Tip: Mangu has a tendency to harden and thicken as it cools. To counteract this, add a few ice cubes while mashing the plantains. The cold temperature helps maintain a soft and creamy texture in your mangú, ensuring it stays soft and delicious even as it cools.
Step 6: Top with onions and serve
Top the mangu with the onions and serve right away.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- To keep the mangu from getting stiff, throw in a few ice cubes while mashing the plantains. The cold helps it stay smooth and creamy, so it stays delicious even as it cools down.
- Make your mangu slightly thinner than your desired consistency because it thickens as it cools. Keep adding water while mashing to achieve the perfect texture.
- For some, using a fork to mash the plantains is easier. If opting for a fork, mash the mangu on a plate or in a shallow bowl.
- Reserve some cooking water for reheating leftovers. Reheating instructions are explained below.
What to serve with Mangú Dominicano
- Sauteed onions, an essential part of this dish, are placed on top of the mangu, for flavor and texture.
- Serve mangu as part of a typical Dominican breakfast spread, with fried cheese (queso frito), fried salami, and fried eggs. You can also serve it with a savory dish, like roast pork shoulder for lunch or dinner.
- For the best results, serve the mangu right away to maintain its soft and creamy texture.
Storing and reheating leftovers
- Store leftover mangu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, making sure to also save any leftover cooking water in a separate container.
- To reheat, bring the leftover cooking water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Then place the mangu in a separate, larger pan and re-mash it using the hot water until you reach your desired texture.
- Fresh boiling water can be used if you didn’t save the cooking water.
- I haven’t experimented with freezing mangu, so I can’t provide a recommendation for it.
What is a typical Dominican breakfast?
The most famous Dominican breakfast dish is los tres golpes, a trio featuring mangu, fried cheese (queso frito), salami, and eggs, usually enjoyed as a sit-down breakfast.
On a regular day, Dominicans enjoy simpler options like farina (similar to cream of wheat), Dominican arepas or breakfast pastries, bread, fruit, and spreads. These are often served with batidas (shakes), the famous morir soñando, or a cup of traditional Dominican cafe.
Is Mangu Dominican or Puerto Rican?
Mangu is a traditional Dominican dish. In Puerto Rico, a similar dish called mofongo is made from green plantains. The plantains are boiled then fried and mashed, and rolled into a ball with pieces of fried pork (chicharrones). While mangu is typically served for breakfast, mofongo is commonly served for dinner with chicken, steak or shrimp, and a savory sauce.
What do Cubans call mangu?
Similar to mangu, Cubans have their own unique dish called fufu de plátano. It’s a combination of ripe and unripe plantains mashed and served with pieces of fried pork belly.
Other Latin Recipes you’ll enjoy
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Mangú Dominicano (Dominican Mashed Plantains)
- 4 green plantains
- 1 small red onion sliced thin
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 or 2 lime wedges
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ⅔- 1 cup reserved cooking water
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the sliced onions in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, lime juice and olive oil - stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the onions and let sit while you prepare the plantains.
- Trim off both ends of each plantain. Use a sharp knife to score long the ridges of the plantain, making sure not to cut into the plantain itself. Remove the peel from the flesh of the plantain. Cut each plantain into 1 to 2-inch long pieces, and then slice each of these pieces in half lengthwise.
- Rinse the plantains and place them in a pot, covering them with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and stir. Boil over medium-high heat for 30 minutes until fork-tender. Proceed to the next step while the plantains are boiling.
- Once the plantains have 5-10 minutes left to boil, transfer the sliced onions and mojo liquid to a small saucepan, adding the garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions become tender but still slightly crispy. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan to keep the onions warm.
- Once the plantains are soft, drain them, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Place the plantains back in the pan, add butter, and mash until smooth and creamy. Gradually add reserved water (with a few teaspoons of mojo if desired), mixing until you achieve your desired texture. For a thinner, softer mangu, add more water. Season with extra salt if needed.
- Top the mangu with the onions and serve right away.
- For the softest mangu, add 2-3 ice cubes while mashing or let the reserved cooking water cool to room temperature before mashing.
- Reserve any leftover cooking water for mashing and reheating leftovers
- For some people, a fork works better for mashing the mangu. If you opt to use a fork, mash the plantains on a plate or on a shallow dish.
- Store leftover mangu in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- To reheat: boil some water in a pan (no more than an inch or so) and add the mangu to the pan. Turn off the flame and mash the mangu, then mix with a rubber spatula until creamy again.