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Mar 17, 2008

Category:Soups and Stews
Cuisine:Caribbean
Prep Time:Less than 4 hrs

The following recipe is a Hawaiian version to the Pastele Soup recipe which is also found in this sharebook. But first a little history on how this recipe traveled from Puerto Rico all the way to Hawaii....

The Puerto Rican immigration to Hawaii began when Puerto Rico's sugar industry was devastated by two hurricanes in 1899 (Hurricane San Ciriaco on August 8th and the second hurricane on August 22nd). These hurricanes caused flooding due to 28 days of continuous rain, damaging Puerto Rico's agricultural industry, leaving 3,400 casualties, and additional thousands without shelter, food, or work.

As a result, there was a shortage of sugar from the caribbean in the world market and a huge demand for the product from Hawaii and other sugar producing countries. Hawaiian sugar plantation owners began to recruit the jobless, but experienced laborers in Puerto Rico.

On November 22, 1900the first group of Puerto Ricans consisting of 56 men, began their long journey to Maui, Hawaii. The trip was long and unpleasant. They first set sail from San Juan harbor to New Orleans, Louisiana. Once in New Orleans, they were boarded on a railroad train and sent to Port Los Angeles, California. From there they set sail aboard the Rio de Janeiro to Hawaii. According to the "Los Angeles Times" dated December 26, 1901, the Puerto Ricans were mistreated and starved by the shippers and the railroad company. They arrived in Honolulu, on December 23, 1900, and were sent to work in different plantations on Hawaii's four islands.


By October 17, 1901, 5,000 Puerto Rican men, women and children had made their new homes on the four islands. Records show that, in 1902, 34 plantations had 1,773 Puerto Ricans on their payrolls; 1,734 worked as field hands and another 39 were clerks or overseers (foremen). Wages and living accommodations depended upon your job and your race. Europeans got paid more and got better quarters. Most of the workers moved from plantation to plantation to work because they did not like the work they did and because of the racial discrimination.

According to the State of Hawaii Data Book 1982, by the year 1910, there were 4,890 Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii.Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii were territories of the United States however, the passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917, granted American citizenship to the Puerto Rican resident in Puerto Rico and excluded those who resided in Hawaii. Plantation owners, like those that comprised the so-called Big Five, found territorial status convenient, enabling them to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various other states of the Union.


Manuel Oliveri Sanchez, a court interpreter at the time, led a legal battle for the recognition of the Hawaiian Puerto Ricans as citizens of the United States. It resulted in the territory's high court granting the Puerto Ricans their citizenship. The power of the plantation owners was finally broken by the activist descendants of the original immigrant laborers. Because they were born in a United States territory and they were legal American citizens, they gained full local voting rights and actively campaigned for statehood for the Hawaiian Islands.

Currently, there are over 30,000 Puerto Ricans or Hawaiian-Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii. Puerto Rican culture, food, music and traditions are very strong there.


And now we get to our Pastele Stew from Hawaii!

Pasteles are similiar to the mexican tamale, a savory filling of cooked pork wrapped in masa — a mixture of grated green bananas conditioned with achiote oil — which is then bundled in banana leaves and boiled until done.

Pastele stew is a different take on that dish; a thick, textured, delectable mass that I could elaborate endlessly on how very delicious it is. Introduced by immigrants from Puerto Rico, no wonder cooks hesitate to share their family secrets online.

Hawaii folks go nuts over wrapped pasteles, but since the process of making them requires time and effort, they're not an item that everyone chooses to prepare at home. Easier to buy, and diners in-the-know find the tasty bundles in small local eateries, on the menu of lunchwagons, and on tables, naturally, of puerto rican relatives.

Every family has their own method to preparing pastele stew. This recipe is from a talented person on Kauai who was most generous to share his version. The enormous catering measurements have been adjusted for the home kitchen, but be forewarned! It still makes quite a bit, at least for 8 to 10 servings. The good thing about this stew is that it can be portioned and frozen for future meals. To serve, simply thaw and heat, thinning with water if necessary.

This is a true work of love, as several steps go into the making. To simplify the process, prep the achiote oil and masa ahead of time. The oil keeps well in a cool place, and the masa can be frozen for several weeks.The tricks to making good masa are green bananas (firm and unripe green) and a grater that will allow you to achieve the proper texture. I do not suggest using the cutting blade of a food processor or blender; it will produce too coarse of a result (or too gritty if overdone). The smallest hole of an all-purpose kitchen grater should work.

 

INGREDIENTS:

Achiote Oil:

1/3 cup 
achiote seeds
1 1/3 cup olive oil

Masa:

4 - 5 large green bananas or plantains
1/2 cup achiote oil
salt to taste

Stew:

2 pounds boneless pork butt, cubed about 3/4 inch (don't trim too much of the fat if any)
6 tablespoons achiote oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1½ tablespoons salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup cilantro, chopped(stems and leaves)
½ cup tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can pitted olives (undrained)
10 cups water
1½ pounds masa
ground black pepper
extra freshly chopped cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare achiote oil:

  • Heat achiote seeds and olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or just until oil has taken reddish color of seeds.
  • Cool.
  • Store in tightly sealed jar.

Prepare masa:

  • Peel bananas and place in lightly salted water (halving them lengthwise and using gloves makes job easier, green bananas leave a sticky sap).
  • Grate on smallest opening of food processor or cheese grater.
  • In bowl, combine grated bananas and 1/2 cup achiote oil thoroughly.
  • Seasoning lightly with salt.
  • Store in heavy ziploc bag in refrigerator, and use within 1-2 days, or freeze until needed.

Preparing stew:

  • In very large pot or dutch oven, heat 6 tablespoons of achiote oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, cumin, salt, bay leaves, cilantro and pork.
  • Cook 10 minutes, occasionally stirring until onions have softened but not browned.
  • Add tomato sauce, olives and their liquid, and 4 cups water.
  • Lower heat to a simmer and cook 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  • Add masa and remaining water (6 cups).
  • Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Cover.
  • Simmer 1 hour, stirring and checking from time to time to avoid scorching.
  • The stew should thicken nicely, but if it looks to be too much, add a little water to thin.
  • Season with freshly ground pepper.
  • Serve over steaming white rice and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

BUEN PROVECHO!

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Monday March 17, 2008, 8:24 am
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Traci R. (0)
Sunday June 13, 2010, 11:13 am
Thank you for your Puerto Rican history story. I really enjoyed learning all of that and reading it. I love your recipe. I am going to try it. Raymond Rosado Sr. was my grandfather. I miss all of his cooking. He was such an awesome cook. I have been trying different recipes lately and thought I'd google the stew and came across this one. Mahalo, God Bless, and Tupperly Yours, Traci Rosado Fernandez

Marilyn B. (0)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 4:21 pm
I'm planning to make this very soon but I have a question regarding the masa. Do you just pour it in? Or spoon the masa in the soup in the form of a ball /dumpling?

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