If you love pasteles, you’re gonna love this recipe for pastele stew. Tender pork chunks infused with classic Puerto Rican flavors of garlic, onion, cilantro, and achiote. Perfect for anytime, but especially in the cooler weather months.
Oh pasteles, the yummy goodness of Puerto Rico and quite popular here in Hawai’i. The perfect pastele can be hard to come by and even harder to craft in your own home. But not to worry, this deconstructed pastele stew is a simple recipe.
This is my husband’s pastele stew recipe that he adapted from his grandfather. Sharing this recipe is a tribute to a wonderful, loving man who unfortunately no longer graces this earth. I’m sure he’d be proud to see how well my husband is making one of his favorite recipes. Love you Papa!
If you are looking for other favorite recipes of Hawai’i, check out these recipes below
What are pasteles?
A Pastele is a traditional Latin American/Carribbean dish similar to a tamale. In the 20th century Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawai’i to work on the sugar plantations. Along with them they brought their yummy foods, most notably the pastele.
Classic pasteles are made using a banana leaf, then a layer of masa made of green banana paste, stuffed with a meat mixture, tied up, and cooked. These are quite labor intensive to make. If your brave and make your own pasteles, the NY Times has a great recipe.
What is achiote?
Achiote is a tropical tree that bears pods with little redish-orange seeds that are used to color and flavor foods. Achiote has a light peppery flavor with a touch of nutmeg. Achiote is one of the classic flavors used in making pastele stew. As a kid we would pick the pods and clean the seeds out, then mix the seeds with water, and pour the colored liquid in to water guns. Then it was an all out water gun war and as you would guess quite a bit of stained clothes. But shh, don’t tell my mom that’s what happened to my nice white shirt.
Where can you find achiote?
Achiote can be found in the spices section of your local grocery store or online.
How to make achiote oil?
If you can’t find achiote oil in the store, not to worry you can make your own and it’s really simple.
1/2 cup oil of choice
1 tablespoon achiote seeds
Pour the oil of your choice in to a medium pot over medium to medium high heat. Add achiote seeds to the oil. Heat oil until the seeds begin to sizzle and the oil starts to change color. Take the oil off the heat and allow to cool with the seeds in place. Once cooled you can use the oil to make this ‘ono pastele stew.
What can I serve with pastele stew?
- White rice
- Gandule rice
- Macaroni salad
- Green salad
How to store pastele stew?
If you just so happen to have extra, which is a rarity at my house, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Can you freeze pastele stew?
Yes. We often make large batches and freeze in a zip top bag. This can keep for 3-6 months.
How to make pastele stew?
Set stove to medium high heat. Place large pot on stove. Add achiote oil, pork, salt, garlic, onion. Saute pork until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Then add tomato paste and parsley. Stir to combine. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour. If you like your meat more tender you can cook for a longer amount of time. Once meat reaches desired tenderness add olives and stir to combine.
For the pastele stew
- 3 tablespoons achiote oil
- 4 pounds pork butt cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 onion diced
- 1 can tomato paste 6 ounces
- 3 bunches cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 cans large whole pitted olives 6 ounces each, drained
- 4 cups chicken stock
For the plantain dumplings
- 3 green plantains
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground annatto
- Set stove to medium high heat. Place large pot on stove.
- Add achiote oil, pork, salt, garlic, onion. Saute pork until browned, about 3-5 minutes.
- Then add tomato paste and parsley. Stir to combine.
- Add in chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium low and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour. If you like your meat more tender you can cook for a longer amount of time.
- Once meat reaches desired tenderness add olives and make the plantain dumplings.
For the plantain dumplings
- Add peeled plantains to a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add salt, garlic powder, cumin, and annatto the food processor. Blend until just combined.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of mixture and add to the pot of pastele stew. Repeat with remaining mixture, being careful not to place the dough balls on one another. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until heated through and ENJOY!
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35 thoughts on “Easy Pastele Stew Recipe”
Do you have this recipe using an instapot?
Hi Jessie. Sorry I do not have one up on the blog yet. I make it in the Instant Pot as well. I should put it up on here too. I’ll let you know when I do. Thank you!
I used this recipe with my instant pot and let me tell youuu its sooo easy. Its basically the same except cook on high pressure for 30 minutes or so and you just add your cilantro and olives in the end.
Aloha Ciana. Awesome. Yes works great in the Instant Pot and CrockPot too. Happy to hear you enjoyed it. Have a great day.
What’s your recommendation for prep/cooking this recipe in a crock pot?
Aloha Kapua. High for 4hrs or low for 8hrs. Add the olives in towards the end, unless you want them really soft.
My recipe includes masa dumpling to give the taste of Pastele. The dumpling I Place it the last 20 minutes while cooking. So ono.
Yes I make those sometimes, but my husband doesn’t care for them so I left them out in this recipe. Thanks for stopping by.
I followed as directed with a lil tweeking, added about 1/4 cup beef broth and two bunches of parsley instead of 3. Was definitely a good stew but missing that pastele flavor.
Thanks for sharing. Adding the beef broth and using less Chinese parsley could be why the pastele flavor was lacking.
What gives the pastele flavor and what the pasteles is all about is the grinded green bananas which i would add 10 to 15 minutes prior to finish. Amount depends on thickness you want. The recipe without the green bananas is just pork stew without the veggies.
Aloha. You’re right, traditional pastele uses green bananas and masa. My husband’s not a huge fan of it, so we don’t add it. You totally can if you’d like though. Thanks for stopping by.
I made this recipe today for dinner tonight. My granddaughter and I sampled it and it was so ono! When I make it again. I would like to add Masa in it. How do I do it. I love your recipe. Mahalo for wonderful delicious recipes.
Mahalo nui for watching!
I made this recipe today for dinner. My granddaughter and I sampled it. It was ono. The next time make it I would like to add Masa to it. How much green bananas do I need and do you make the Masa with. Mahalo for your delicious recipes
Yay. So glad to hear. My husband like it better without the masa so this is the way we make it. There are some other recipes out there that make like a masa dumpling to add. That would be yummy.
I just made this tonight and it was delish! My picky child that hates pork even had seconds. I did modify it for the IP by adding 1 cup water, cooked it for 35 mins, 10 mins NPR then added olives. I also added a couple dashes of cumin, next time I’ll add some chili peppers. I will definitely be trying your other recipes!
So great to hear. Thanks for sharing! Have a great day.
Used this recipe for Thanksgiving this year since we decided not to do turkey, and it was a hit! Mahalo!
You don’t add any liquid to the pork? It says to simmer, but in what? I am confused…
The achiote oil, pork juices, and tomato paste create a liquid that the pork will simmer in. It will continue to thin slightly as more pork juices render out.
I saw you mention this is infused with ginger, but don’t see it on the recipe? Should I add it? Mahalo!
Aloha Corin. Did I mention ginger? I don’t see it. Sorry about that. No ginger. You can add it if you’d like though.
Ginger is mentioned in your Pastele Stew description. I did add to the recipe a 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger combined with the cilantro gave it a nice perky taste.
I use garlic, not ginger. But I’m happy that flavor profile worked out. Thank you for sharing.
Relle, MAHALO for sharing ❤️ I absolutely love ❤️ the recipe and look forward to the others 😎🤙🏾
Aloha Chad. Great to hear. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day.
Mahalo for sharing your recipe Relle! It’s very similar to my family recipe (also in Hawaii). When we made the actual pasteles, one thing that added extra flavor, besides the green banana (or plantain) masa, was the banana leaf wrapper. For for the stew, maybe line the serving bowl with banana leaf? Lol
Aloha Steven. Mahalo for sharing. Have a great day.
Aloha! The recipe says to use 3 bunches of Cilantro, but the video shows Parsley. Which one should I use?
Cilantro can also be called Chinese Parsley. Use cilantro. Thanks.
What do you do with two yellow bananas in the primary recipe? I notice 3 green bananas for the dumplings, but don’t see anything for the 2 yellow ones listed about the dumpling portion.
Aloha Elena. No yellow bananas are used in this recipe. It is 3 plantains for the dumplings. Mahalo.
Sorry, I meant plantains, not bananas. But I see they are only used for the dumplings now. Thank you! Can’t wait.
No worries. Have a great day.