By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, December 15, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
"Recipes From the Heart" includes directions
for gandule rice and pasteles.

A Puerto Rican
holiday feast

NEXT Thursday, Puerto Ricans in Hawaii begin celebrating the 100th anniversary of their immigration to the islands -- and what better way to kick off a centennial than with food?

Pasteles in particular, a holiday tradition. That would be any holiday -- Christmas, Easter, what have you.

"Recipes from the Heart of Hawaii's Puerto Ricans," a cookbook commemorating the centennial, features three pastele recipes and five variations.

Pasteles are a distant relative of laulau: ti-leaf-wrapped bundles of pork, vegetables and seasonings steamed until absolutely tender. Critical to the formula -- as luau leaf is to laulau -- are grated green bananas.

Laura B. Martin-Robley, one of the editors of "Recipes from the Heart," makes pasteles several times a year -- 50 at a time -- and freezes them.

"I don't know how to cook a little bit," says Martin-Robley, who comes from a family of eight kids. "You have to have a system," she says. She makes the masa, or banana mixture, first and goes on to the meat the next day.

She learned from her mother, who died 18 years ago. "I happened to write everything down and I kept it."

This is pretty much the inspiration for "Recipes from the Heart."

"I wanted to preserve our mothers' and our grandmothers' recipes for our children and grandchildren."

The following are recipes from the new cookbook: local-style pasteles, requested by T.Tremaine Fase, and a complementary side dish, gandule rice.


100 ti leaves, deboned
6 tablespoons achiote oil (recipe follows)

Bullet Meat mixture:
5 pounds pork butt or steak, in small pieces
2 tablespoons achiote oil
6 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
3 bunches green onions, sliced small (about 3 cups)
4 bunches cilantro, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 6-ounce cans olives, drained
4-6 Hawaiian chile peppers, mashed

Bullet Banana Mixture (Masa):
50 green Chinese, Williams or Bluefield bananas
2 tablespoons salt or to taste
1-1/2 cups achiote oil

To prepare meat: Saute pork in oil, then add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until it begins to fry. Add tomato sauce and cook 10 more minutes. Add onion and cilantro and simmer 45 minutes. Add olives and peppers (add slowly and taste to be sure it's not too hot). Simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings.

To prepare bananas: Peel, dropping each into water to keep from browning. Grate bananas, then add salt. Add achiote oil slowly, until the masa is a rich orange-red color. Mix well. Adjust salt. Set aside.

To prepare ti leaves: Run across an electric grill or the flame of a gas stove to soften, but do not burn.

To assemble: Layer two ti leaves, one halfway up the other. Put a spoonful of achiote oil on the leaf, followed by 1/2 cup of masa and spread with the back of a spoon. Place 2 tablespoons of the meat in the middle of the masa. Fold in the short ends, then the sides, to form an oblong packet. Tie with string. Wrap in foil if mixture leaks out. Pasteles may be frozen at this point.

To cook: Steam or boil the packets for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Steam frozen pasteles without thawing.

Approximate nutritional information, per piece: 220 calories, 20 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 525 mg sodium.*


1 cup achiote seeds
2 cups vegetable oil

Simmer seeds in oil until the oil turns a rich red. Strain.

Note: Achiote seeds are available in Asian or Mexican sections of most grocery stores, as well as at specialty groceries .

Approximate nutritional information per tablespoon: 120 calories, 14 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium.*


3-1/2 cups rice
1/2 pound pork butt or steak, sliced
4 cups water
1-1/2 cups gandule (pigeon peas)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup achiote oil
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup Chinese parsley, chopped

Wash and drain rice. Place pork, water and peas in large saucepan.

Grind garlic and spices together and stir into pan. Cover and cook over medium heat 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine oil, broth, onion and parsley and bring to a boil. Stir into pork mixture. Add rice and simmer 15 minutes; stir well and simmer 15 more minutes. Serves 8.

Note: Gandule, or pigeon peas, are sold canned in grocery stores near other peas.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 640 calories, 22 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 900 mg sodium.*

Food Events: Morsels

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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