Guanimes is a delicious cornmeal dish wrapped in a plantain leaf (or banana leaf). What I love most about guanimes is that they are a beautiful illustration of how dishes evolve over time and in response to what ingredients are available.
Guanimes are very similar to Tamales and Hallacas, which are also cornmeal based but wrapped in corn husk. Banana and plantain were introduced to the Americas from Africa, and became central to Caribbean cuisines. The leaves are used in a myriad of dishes for flavor, retaining moisture, and as a vessel. In Puerto Rico they also used verduras, such as yautia and yucca, which we know today as pasteles.
The following is an episode of AARP's En Vivo Contigo where I shared a recipes for guanimes. Scroll down for written recipes.
1 1/4 cup cornmeal 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup water (3/4 water) 5 whole star anise seeds 1/2 cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon maple syrup Procedure: Masa 1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal and salt. 2. In a small pot, bring water and anise seeds to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. 3. Strain liquid and let cool until it's at room temperature. You've made an anise tea! 4. Once cool, mix together anise tea, coconut milk, and maple syrup. 5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, mix all ingredients together well. Hoja de Plátano 1. Cut plantain leaf into 6-8 inch long pieces. 2. Turn stove flame onto high. Carefully using both hands, slide leaf across the flame. You will notice the color change and the leaf become glossier and more maleable. Making Guanimes 1. Lay leaf flat down on work surface and place two big dollops of the cornmeal masa onto the center of the leaf. Use back of spoon to shape cornmeal into a log shape. 2. Fold leaf over cornmeal, tuck under with your fingers (careful not to squeeze masa out), and roll until you've wrapped the leaf is completely around the masa. 3. Using kitchen string, tie the ends of the plantain leaf tightly. Boil 1. In a pot, boil water and 1 teaspoon salt. Add guanimes and boil for 45 minutes. 2. Pull guanimes out of the water, unwrap from the plantain leaf, and enjoy!