Mofongo with Shrimp and Lemongrass

Mashed fried plantains are served with a heady seafood broth in this light, delicate rendition of the popular Puerto Rican dish.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour


By Von Diaz

Published on July 1, 2024

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When Von Diaz, author of Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking, thinks of her Puerto Rican roots, she always thinks of mofongo: a dish of fried green plantains crushed with garlic and topped with everything from chicharrón (fried pork skins) to a rich tomato gravy. This version, based on her grandmother’s recipe, features tender shrimp and a savory seafood broth infused with bright lemongrass. The dish is a classic example of the creativity and ingenuity of island cooking, and represents a fusion of Indigenous and African ingredients and techniques and Spanish flavors. 

Use the greenest plantains you can find, as yellow plantains will taste and behave very differently, then mash while the fried plantains are still warm, as they will firm up quickly. The tender mofongo may fall apart once you add the stock and top with the shrimp, so plan to serve immediately.

Adapted from Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking by Von Diaz, © 2024. Published by Chronicle Books.


For the stock:

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen shell-on large shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce, plus more
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 8 cilantro sprigs
  • 3 culantro sprigs
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, rinsed and cut into 2-in. pieces
  • 3 ají dulce peppers or ½ red bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered

For the mofongo:

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 green plantains (about 2½ lb.), peeled and cut into 1-in. rounds
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • Cilantro leaves, sliced avocado, lime wedges, and hot sauce, for garnish


Step 1

Make the stock: Peel and devein the shrimp, then set aside, reserving the shells. (You should have about 2 cups of shrimp shells.) To a large pot, add the shrimp shells, fish sauce, salt, cilantro, culantro, lemongrass, peppers, garlic, onion, and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 20–30 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the mofongo: To a large deep skillet fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, add the vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium-high. When the temperature reads 375°F (you can also test the temperature by dropping a small of piece of plantain into the oil; it should sizzle and float on contact), working in batches, gently add the plantains and fry, turning occasionally with tongs, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer the plantains to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining plantains.

Step 3

While the plantains fry, to a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the garlic, turn off the heat, and cook in the residual heat, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, 1–2 minutes. Set aside.

Step 4

To a pilón or mortar and pestle, add 1 cup of the fried plantains, a quarter of the sautéed garlic and its oil, and season to taste with salt. Using the pestle, mash the plantains, continuously scraping the sides into the center, until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the texture resembles a loose dough, about 5 minutes. Using your hands, scoop out the mashed mixture and form into an individual mofongo, roughly the size of a baseball. Transfer to a soup bowl, then repeat with the remaining plantains and garlic. (You should have about 4 balls total.)

Step 5

Make the shrimp: Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium pot, discarding the solids. Bring the stock to a boil, then season to taste with more fish sauce and salt. Add the shrimp, remove from the heat, and allow to sit until the shrimp are no longer translucent, 2–3 minutes.

Step 6

Using a slotted spoon, divide the shrimp among the bowls with mofongo. Pour 1 cup of stock into each bowl, around or over the mofongo. Garnish with the cilantro, avocado, lime, and hot sauce, and serve immediately.

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