Making pateles (pasteles)

This is NOT a step-by-step manual on how to prepare this pork and grated green banana dish, but more of a visual tool for first-time patele cooks looking for a little show-and-tell. Like sushi, pictures help a great deal on the first attempt, and even though there are patele recipes online, a lack of “show me” photos might be the reason why I’m being swamped with patele | pasteles in the stats keyword activity section.

Banana leaves are the traditional wrapping medium of choice but there are alternatives if you can’t source them. I’ll let the following photos speak for themselves. Another thing I’d like to point out is that if potato or yucca is mentioned in the recipe, you can still go ‘all banana’ for the masa mixture and achieve tasty results. Pasteles (for recipe)


All lined up and ready to wrap. My sister’s in-laws go with a production line setup. Masa and pitted olives on one end, cooked pork on the other. Below: a layer of seasoned banana mix and a scoop of pork filling (not too much) goes onto a piece of foil. They were out of leaves. This is wiki-wiki (fast) style.


Another example, but with baking parchment and a piece of ti leaf added to the foil wrap.


I fold mine by simply folding it over in half, like so, and turning in the edges to seal until it’s almost a snug fit. No matter how you choose to fold your patele, the important thing is not to wrap it too tightly. During the cooking process, the banana will expand a little.


To speed up the cooking process, I start a pot of boiling, lightly salted water separately from the pot that will hold the wrapped patele. When all of the patele are ready for the final step, in goes the hot water and a heavy plate to weigh them down. The heat/flame is adjusted to maintain a simmer, and the pateles are cooked, covered, for at least 90 minutes.

After cooking, thoroughly drain before serving with lots of white rice. Or cool completely and store in heavy-duty freezer bags. To serve, remove and thaw. These can be steamed over a double-boiler until hot or heated in a microwave (don’t forget to remove the foil first!).

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