I come from a large family, on my mom´s side, and all my aunts do a lot of cooking, each having her own specialty. My mom is not as crazy about cooking as they are, but the good thing is that, in spite of this, I learned a lot and tried many tasty foods as a result of my family´s cooking expertise. When my mom cooks, she makes flavorful dishes. My favorite is pastel de chucho. This dish is a delicious combination of sweet and savory. It is very popular along the Eastern coast of Venezuela. It is made with manta ray and plantains. My mom´s version is made with another type of fish, as manta ray is not available here. I really like the taste of plantains with the savory fish stew and a touch of cheese. Delicious!
- 1 lb rockfish
- 6 cups water
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 diced onion
- 1 diced pepper
- 2 diced scallions
- 1/2 cup sweet peppers, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 ripe plantains
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 6 eggs
- 12 oz hard white cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup honey
- For the stew: Clean the fish thoroughly with plenty of water and lemon.
- Add 6 cups of water to a medium pot and heat over medium heat. Cook the fish for about 30 minutes or until it´s ready. Strain and let it cool.
- Once it´s cold, make sure you remove the bones and shred.
- In skillet, cook olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, pepper, scallions and sweet peppers until the onions are translucent. Lastly, add the fish and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes to let all the flavors blend well. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- For the pastel: Butter a glass pan, about 8 X 8 inches.
- Slice the plantains (lengthwise) and fry them in vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat until both sides are golden brown. Set aside.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whisk the whites with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until they´re a little frothy (but not stiff). Add the yolks and whisk for another 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place a layer of plantains on the bottom of the previously buttered pan, then a layer of the stew, then a layer of crumbled cheese, some of the egg mixture and, lastly, the honey. Repeat the process until you finish with a layer of cheese and honey.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.
- Fish you may use: rockfish or any other thick fillet.
- If you wish, you may substitute papelón (raw sugar) syrup for honey.