Pasteles de Masa
Pasteles (or “pateles” as Hawaiians pronounce it), are a Puerto Rican Christmas dish adopted by Hawaii during the plantation era. Made with pork, beef, or seafood and mixed with green plantain masa, pasteles are tamale-like parcels wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. Achiote is a special addition to this dish, a deep-red seasoning used to add color to the dish and add a sweet, nutty flavor.
Pasteles de Masa
- pasteles paper or parchment paper
- butchers twine
For the filling:
- 2 lbs pork cubed
- 1/4 cup Puerto Rican sofrito
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1 packet sazon sin achiote
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 14 ½ oz chickpeas canned
For the masa:
- 2 plantains peeled
- 3 green bananas peeled
- 1 1/2 lbs yautia (taro root) peeled
- 1/2 lb kabocha pumpkin peeled
- 1/2 cup recaito
- 2 packets sazon con culantro & achiote
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 beef bouillon cube
For achiote oil:
- 6 tablespoons achiote seeds annatto
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 small jar pimentos
- 12 – 14 oz banana leaves
- It's best to split up preparing this dish over the course of 2 days to avoid spending too much time on it. One the first day you can prepare all the ingredients and on the second you will prepare the banana leaves and assemble and cook everything. Simply follow the instructions below.
On Day 1:
How to make the filling:
- Start preparing the filling by mixing all the filling ingredients together in a pressure cooker and cook for about half an hour, allowing the pressure to return to normal on its own once it's done.
- Uncover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes until browned. Set aside to cool, then place in an airtight container in the fridge until the next day.
How to make the masa:
- Finely grate the plantain, yautia, green bananas and pumpkin using either a manual grater or a food processor with the fine shredder attachment. Work in batches if necessary.
- Switch to the chopping blade attachment and pass the shredded vegetables through once again until you get a fine and pasty mixture.
- Add all the other masa ingredients and mix them well until homogenous, then transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
How to make achiote oil:
- In a pan, heat up 1 ½ – 2 cups (355-475 ml) of vegetable oil, then add the achiote (annatto) seeds and fry them until the oil reaches a bright red color.
- Remove the seeds using a slotted spoon and discard.
- Let the oil cool down completely, then store in a sealed contained until it's time to use.
On Day 2:
How to prepare the banana leaves:
- Clean the leaves then carefully remove the veins.
- Cut the banana leaves in 12 x 12-inch squares (30 x 30 cm) and wash the squares under the warm tap.
- Working in batches of a few at a time, microwave the banana leaves for about 2 minutes to soften them and make them easier to fold around the filling.
How to assemble:
- Take out all the main ingredients prepared the previous day and make sure you have everything handy including the banana leaves, parchment paper or pastel paper and kitchen string to tie the pasteles.
- Place a sheet of pastel paper on a clean surface, then a square of banana leaf. Add another paper on top and another banana leaf, continuing in this alternating manner until you form a stack. It will make filling the pasteles easier.
- Then, on the top piece of banana leaf, spread about 1 teaspoon of achiote oil, then about 1/2 cup of masa mixture, forming a rectangle.
- Next, add 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the rectangle and the chopped pimentos on top.
- Now begin folding the banana leaf over the filling and bring the ends together and fold over twice for a tight seal.
- Tuck the ends under the parcel. Don't worry if the leaves tear a little during the wrapping process since they'll get wrapped again in paper. If you decide to skip the banana leaves, however, it might be a good idea to double-wrap the parcels.
- Wrap the pasteles paper in the same way then tie them securely with kitchen string or butcher's twine, as you would a present.
- You can proceed to cooking them immediately or if you're making them in advance this is also when you can freeze them for later.
- To cook them, bring a large pot of water to boil, place your pasteles in the water and simmer for 45 minuntes (if you're preparing them from frozen, leave to cook for 1 full hour instead).
- Alternatively you can also use a pressure cooker. Just let them steam for 30 minutes with 1 cup water.
- Drain the cooked pasteles, cut the strings, and unwrap. Serve hot with arroz con gandules.