El Tocororo was a tremendous experience. Whose idea was it?
It was my idea, and it was a real sacrifice, because it is not easy to create a restaurant like that, without a [fixed] menu. You can be asked for anything, and you have to come up with a quick solution. I like being pressured by the customers and asked for something that I don’t have on the menu. If someone comes and asks for a lentil stew, and I don’t have it, I go out and look for it. Yes, I enjoy pleasing people. At El Tocororo, it was incredible; the sales were very high.
I think it was the first experience of that type in Cuba and on the continent; I don’t know of any other place like that…. It was very successful. And a great cuisine was achieved.
(for 6 servings)
plantains (two semi-ripe and two green) / 4
pork cracklings / 50 g
head of garlic / 1
Place the plantains in water in a pressure cooker and take them out three minutes after the cooker valve begins to sound. Mash or crush the plantains. Add salt. To keep the mash soft in the process or while preparing the mojo sauce, add small amounts of the water in which the plantains were cooked.
To prepare the mojo sauce, crush the garlic with its peel and sauté it a pan with the pork fat. If the pork cracklings are not fresh, fry them again. Then mash them into bits. Cut the sautéed garlic into small pieces and remove the largest peels. In a small amount of pork fat, sauté the cracklings again with small pieces of finely chopped cilantro.
Mix the garlic with the pork fat and the cracklings and pour it over the mashed plantains.
Can be served alone or as a side dish.
Tomás Erasmo Hernández León (Cabaiguán,1942) Founder of the restaurant La Cecilia. Founder of El Tocororo, the first restaurant in Cuba with no fixed menu. Was chef at the International Convention Center. For 12 years, oversaw the kitchens at the La Finca and El Ranchón restaurants. Has cooked for most celebrities who have come through Cuba in the last 50 years. Currently runs the restaurant Mama Inés, in Havana’s historic quarter.