Classic Guatemalan Dishes
by Diane Pastor
Looking for something to do on those rainy Xela afternoons? Why not experiment with Guatemalan cuisine? To get you started here are a couple of simple and delicious recipes, one vegetarian, and one for meat lovers.
Rellenos de plátano
Take 6 large plantains – not too ripe and not too green – and boil them slowly over a low heat. Cook until mushy then remove them from the pan and crush them with a fork. They should form a sort of doughy mass. Adding sugar is optional at this point, depending on how sweet you want them. Then form balls with the “dough” and pat them flat, as if you were making tortillas. Place some frijoles volteados – the black bean paste that is sold in any store – on top, fold them closed and sprinkle with flour. Fry in very hot oil until golden brown. They should be served hot, and can be accompanied by cream and a little sugar on top.
Start with a pound of ground beef, tomatos, red pepper, a clove of garlic and a finely chopped onion. These last 4 ingredients are placed in a pan and fried until the onion is transparent. Season the meat with pepper, salt, thyme and bay leaf and add it to the pan. Stir the mixture until the meat is cooked, adding water if it becomes dry
To make the base you can use 10 thin store-bought tortillas, but it is better to make your own from corn flour as that means you can decide on their shape and thickness.
You also need a small cabbage and ¼ cup of white vinegar. This is to make the “salad”, a sort of pickle that goes on top. The cabbage is washed and cut into thin strips. Put it in a bowl and add hot water, soaking for about 3 minutes. Stir and drain. Then move it to a bowl of cold water and add salt and vinegar.
The last stage is to fry the tortillas in oil. Once they are crispy, remove them and drain off the excess oil on a paper towel. Add a layer of the meat mixture and sprinkle with some pickled cabbage. To garnish you can add some tomato sauce, finely chopped raw onion, crumbled ??dry cheese and chopped parsley. ¡Buen provecho!