How to make Puerto Rican Pasteles
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Last week we received a large order of green William's bananas. A few people on the Food Basket team were stoked to see them, and asked us to set aside some bananas for their weekly produce bag. They told us they like to use William's bananas in their masa for pasteles because of their size and starchiness in comparison to the apple banana, which is more common locally. Pasteles is a tamale-like dish which is made from locally grown starches like green banana, taro and kabocha squash. This local favorite has its roots in Puerto Rican cuisine, a contribution made by immigrants from Puerto Rico who arrived to Hawaii in the early 1900s to work sugar plantations and brought with them both culinary and musical influences.
Neither of us on the DA BOX team had made pasteles before, but we found some great and informative recipes online. We've linked those sites below. Karla at the blog veggiejeva.co has veganized her grandmother's pasteles recipe using a soy filling, but we used our Ali'i mushrooms as the filling for the pasteles. Traditionally they are made with ground beef.
Pasteles are also great because the masa is made from starches that can be grown locally and sustainably in tropical climates making them not only delicious but less carbon intensive than other starchy foods like rice, potato, or corn masa.