Pasteles (or “pateles” as Hawaiians pronounce it), are a Puerto Rican Christmas dish that was adopted by Hawaii during the plantation era. Made with pork, beef or seafood and mixed with green plantain masa, pasteles are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked. Achiote, a deep red seasoning, is used to color the dish and impart a sweet, nutty flavor.
How To Make Pasteles de Masa:
This is how you make the filling:
- Combine all ingredients for the filling in a pressure cooker. Set to cook for 30 minutes.
- Let it come back under pressure naturally without letting go.
- Cover and let brown/simmer for 15 minutes.
- Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until use.
How to make the Masa:
- Use the fine blade of your food processor or a manual grater to grate the plantain, green bananas, yautia and pumpkin.
- Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to work in batches.
- Replace the chopping blade with the chopping blade.
- Process the shredded vegetables in batches until fine and paste-like.
- Add the remaining masa ingredients and mix until well blended. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
How To Make Achiote Oil:
- Heat 1 1/2 – 2 cups of vegetable oil and add 6 tablespoons of annatto seeds.
- Simmer the seeds until the oil turns a bright red color.
- Strain the seeds from the oil and discard.
- Let the oil cool and store in a sealed container until use.
How to prepare the banana leaves:
- Remove the ridge from the leaves.
- Cut the banana leaves into 12 x 12 inch squares and wash them under warm running water.
- Working in batches, microwave the banana leaves for 1.5 to 2 minutes, this will help make the leaf more flexible.
How to assemble:
- Set up a collection station with the masa mixture, filling, achiote oil, banana leaves, pastel paper, and butcher’s twine.
- Stack the pastel paper and banana leaves, alternating them, starting with the pastel paper.
- Spread 1 tsp achiote oil on the banana leaf.
- Spoon 1/2 cup of the masa mixture onto the banana leaf and spread into a rectangle.
- Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center and sprinkle with chilies if you like.
- Fold the banana leaf over the filling.
- Bring the leaf tips together.
- Fold in half to create a tight seal. t
- Tuck the ends underneath. If the banana leaf splits a little, don’t worry, because you’re going to fold it back into the paper. Do the same cover and fold with the paper.
- If you’re only using pastel paper, I recommend double-wrapping it.
- Tie the pastel with butcher’s twine as a present.
- At this point, you can cook them right away or you can freeze them until ready to use.
- When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pastels and cook for 45 minutes for fresh and 1 hour for frozen.
- They can also be cooked in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes with 1 cup of water.
- Use a pair of pliers to remove the pastel on the string from the water and place it on a paper towel.
- Cut the string and unwrap it carefully. Enjoying!