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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alternative namesMofongo pelao, mofongo criollo, mofonguito
CourseMain course
Place of originPuerto Rico
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsPlantains, chicharrón, olive oil, and garlic
VariationsFufu, tacacho, cayeye, mangú
Other informationPopular throughout:
Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic
New Jersey
New York City

Mofongo (Spanish pronunciation: [moˈfoŋɡo]) is a dish from Puerto Rico with plantains as its main ingredient.[1] Plantains are picked green, cut into pieces and typically fried but can be boiled or roasted, then mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil in a wooden pilón (mortar and pestle).[2][3] 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.[4] Particular flavors result from variations that include vegetables, chicken, shrimp, beef, or octopus packed inside or around the plantain orb.

Origin and history[edit]

Mofongo is a traditional Puerto Rican dish combining influences from the cultures of the Greater Antilles Island descending from Spain, West Africa and Taíno. Where Puerto Rico gets its culture and roots. These cultural influences also resulted in the creation of mofongo's distantly-related but notably different West African dish fufu, Mofongo's unique flavor comes from a combination of West African flavors and the Taíno Indian culinary tradition of mashing root vegetables, mixed with major Spanish culinary influences. Fufu, a sticky dough pulled and eaten by hand, is made from various starchy vegetables. Fufu was bought to the Caribbean by Africans in the Spanish New World colonies. Each country developed their own unique dish borne from their cultural origins and influences that were very different from original native dish such as Trinidad and Tobago (pong plantain also known as tum-tum), Cuba (fufu de plátano and machuquillo), Dominican Republic (mangú), Haiti (tomtom) 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.[5] The title of the recipe is mofongo criollo. Green plantains are cleaned with lemon, boiled with veal and hen, then mashed with garlic, oregano, 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 are similar recipes. Funche criollo is 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). While similar funche criollo does not include pork a key ingredient that makes mofongo.

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, chicharrón and formed into a ball.

A 1980 booklet from the U.S. government promoting tourism in Puerto Rico wrote of mofongo as being "jocularly described as a Puerto Rican matzoh ball" and described mofongo as being a "mashed, roasted plantain, combine with bacon, spices and goes well with chicken soup".[6] El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño o Formulario also has an example of green plantains roasted over coal and eaten with fat and garlic called plátanos asado.

The recipe has been frequently changed throughout Puerto Rico but maintained key ingredients that make up the dish such as pork, fat, spices, broth, starch, and a pilón for mashing. The last evaluation of mofongo is frying the starch in lard or oil and is what classic mofongo is today as this method separated it's self from similar dish making it uniquely Puerto Rican giving the dish a crusty, dense, and umami flavor.


Central 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 Kikongo term mfwenge-mfwenge, which means "a great amount of anything at all".[citation needed]


Mofongo evolved from three cultural influences: Spanish, Taino, and African within the Puerto Rican populace. Mofongo is different from fufu but uses the same African method with vegetables 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.[citation needed] 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, and arroz junto, among others. Broth is often made with chicken and sofrito. Sofrito is made with Spanish and Taíno fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Pork is a major component for most traditional offerings and the preparations of Puerto Rican cuisine. The only other Caribbean Island where pork is a major component is Cuba.[citation needed] The use of lard, pork scraps and inner parts has its influence from the harsh diet and treatment of African people in Puerto Rico. This led to dish on the island such as mofongo, gandinga, and mondongo. Mofongo combines the African tradition of fufu with limited ingredients given to slaves: plantains, lard, and pork scraps.

Food trucks[edit]

Food trucks around Puerto Rico, Florida, New York, and other parts of the USA serve mofongo. A popular version in Puerto Rico is papas locas, crazy fries. Mofongo is placed flat in a takeaway container layered with French fries or yam fries, shredded meat or meats, chopped onions, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuces, corn, melted cheese, and mayoketchup (fry sauce).


A pilón to make mofongo

The name mofongo refers to cooked plantains mashed with fat (olive oil, lard, or butter), spices, and pork in a wooden mortar and pestle called a pilón (made with mahogany or guaiacum, both native hardwoods) and shaped more or less into a ball and in or alongside broth. The mofongo is then able to absorb any juice or broth from the seared meat that is placed on top or inside of the dish. The consistency of mofongo is much more dense and stiff than fufu.


Shrimp mofongo from Rompeolas restaurant in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

It is also common in Puerto Rico to make mofongo with cassava (mofongo de yuca), breadfruit (mofongo de pana), and ripe plantain mofongo (mofongo de amarillo).

The bifongo is any combination of two starches fried and mashed together. Ripe and green plantains together is the most popular choice.

The trifongo is any combination of three starches fried and mashed together. Most popular is cassava with green and ripe plantains, but batata and breadfruit may be used.

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, combining plantain chips, cassava chips and pork rinds into one bag.

Mofongo relleno with crab meat in Culebra, Puerto Rico

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.[7] Today, mofongo relleno is commonly stuffed with either seafood, poultry, or another meat.[8]

Mofonguito are bite size mofongo usually severed as an appetizer. Not to be confused with Dominican mofonguito, which are tostones relleno.

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.

Outside Puerto Rico[edit]

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. After Trujillo's death many Dominicans returned to the Dominican Republic, bringing the recipe for mofongo, which has remained popular ever since.[citation needed] The first Dominican cookbook with a recipe for mofongo is Cocina Criolla, second edition by Amanda Ornes, in 1962. The recipe is called mafongo using roasted green plantains mashed with just chicarrón and oil. 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"[citation needed]. Dominican chef Clara Gonzalez, also known as Aunt Clara, says in her cookbook, "mofongo has a special place in the Dominicans' hearts and stomachs but can be traced back to Puerto Rico"[citation needed].

Mofongo has become popular among Colombians, Cubans and Dominicans living in the United States and anywhere large numbers of Puerto Ricans or Dominicans reside.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[9]

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.

Perhaps the oldest song mentioning mofongo is called "Puertorriqueño" by Joe Valle and César Concepción.

On Saturday Night Live, David Ortiz (a recurring impression played by Kenan Thompson) frequently refers to the dish when describing his "big lunch".

Mofongo was mentioned numerous times on the 1970s U.S. NBC situation comedy Sanford & Son when characters Fred and Lamont (Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson) interact with their Puerto Rican neighbor Julio (Gregory Sierra).

The 2021 animated PBS show Alma's Way, about a Puerto Rican girl growing up in the Bronx with her family, frequently mentions mofongo as a favorite family dish.


  1. ^ Torres, A. (2006). Latinos in New England (in Spanish). Temple University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-59213-418-2. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  2. ^ Carballo, Viviana (January 19, 2005). "Gusto! ; Plantains Carry Deep Roots of Tradition in Mofongo". Special to the Sentinel. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  3. ^ Cordero Malavé, Deborah (2010). Plantain Hybrids: Fresh Market and Processing Characteristics. Mayaguez, PR: University of Puerto Rico , Mayaguez Campus. pp. 9, 41.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Puerto Rico, U.S.A. US Government. 1980.
  7. ^ Ortiz, Yvonne (1997). A Taste of Puerto Rico: Traditional and New Dishes from the Puerto Rican Community. Plume. ISBN 0452275482.
  8. ^ Van Atten, Suzanne (2015). Moon San Juan, Vieques & Culebra. Avalon Travel. ISBN 978-1631212284.
  9. ^ Video: Guy Fieri on Mofongo Archived 2011-11-25 at the Wayback Machine on Food Network

External links[edit]