Ono Ono™ Pasteles



Upon recently making my usual after-work, stress-relief trek through the Kaheka Don Quijote (a.k.a. “Holiday Mart”, a.k.a. “Daiei”… because some of us old-timers like me still call it that!), I happened to come across an in-store flyer advertising a sale on Ono Ono™  brand Pork Pasteles.

Now they’re mass-producing Pasteles for retail? THIS I gotta’ try!!!

As you Kama’aina folks are probably familiar with finding in the meat, produce, deli/poke and/or freezer section of your favorite local grocery store., along with competitor Keoki, Ono Ono™ (d.b.a. Hawaii Food Products, Inc) is the same brand stamped on the label of packaged fresh-frozen Luau grindz such as Laulau, Kalua Pig, Pipikaula and Lomi Salmon.

Now add Pasteles (pronounced “Pah-teh-leh”; “S” is silent) to that.

I’ve certainly had my share of this Puerto Rican signature favorite in my lifetime. Being it from a friend’s Puerto Rican grandma’s loving hands, laborously grating the green banana by hand herself, then seasoning and cooking her AMAZING home-cooked Pastele to PERFECTION. To fundraisers, to established, well respected places such as The Pastele Shop in Kalihi and Jackie’s Diner in Waimalu.

So, can Ono Ono™ brand’s mass-produced-for-retail Pasteles really live up to the aforementioned “Pasteles legends” you and I may be more familiar with? Let’s find out!

Here’s one of two Pasteles included in each 12.5 oz. net weight vacuum-sealed FROZEN package…

Each one measures 8″ in length X 2″ width X 3/4″ thick net size with foil wrapper on.

As instructed, I opted for best results in heating it up by “boiling” the Pasteles. Albeit, keeping the water level at braising level (about 1/3 up from the bottom) so that it as much steams as boils, in an effort to retain as much flavor as possible….

After about 15 minutes subject to rapid boil and steam in the pan, then several minutes to let it stand, voila (oh, wait, that’s Italian lol)…

I was actually quite surprised to discover that, not only was it wrapped in a leaf under the foil, but a TI LEAF… and a full one at that!

This of course being the “Hawaiian twist” to Pasteles, whereas they’re usually wrapped in a Banana leaf.

Unwrapping the Ti Leaf and tin foil reveals the pipin’ hot, fully-cooked, ready-fo’-grind Pork Pasteles within…

Oooooooohhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Of course, like Laulau — or any other foods for that matter,  that are wrapped-up and steamed — the final result, as you see here, doesn’t exactly LOOK appetizing. However, believe me, it is VERY APPETIZING in taste!

Or is it? Let’s dig right in and try it…

The verdict? Hmmm. Not bad. As it turns out, Ono Ono’s Pasteles, believe it or not, LOOKS more authentic than it tastes.


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Both Diner A and myself agree that it’s lacking a key seasoning component,  whether it be garlic, annato/achiote or whatevah it may be. But it just doesn’t have that genuine flavor of at least what we’re familiar with. I also want more olives, as I personally LOVE the salty, robust flavor olive imparts with the masa and pork pastele mixture.


As for the green banana “masa” (that mushy stuff that the ground pork is mixed with and wrapped in) it’s a bit, well, mushy and also tasted like it had been frozen for too long. How long this has really been sitting in the freezer from time of production to table, I can’t say.

The Pastele Shop also uses Ti Leaf to wrap their Pastele, which like it does with Laulau and Kalua Pig, imparts a distinctive flavor profile that I think has much more depth and earthy character than the more traditional banana leaf. However in this case, the steamed[out Ti Leaf wrapper somewhat overpowers the flavor profile of the grated green banana masa and pork core, mainly due to the lack of seasoning.

Those sticking points aside, both Diner A and myself agree that, while not great, Ono Ono’s Pasteles certainly ain’t bad, and worthy of at least a halfway decent representation of this Puerto Rican classic, while also making note that, if purchased on sale, is within a good market valued price point.

Overall, 1 SPAM Musubi (average) for Ono Ono™ Pasteles. Not bad. Not great.

Oh, I also made Gandules Rice to go along with this store-bought Pasteles, which I’ll post a recipe and step-by-step how-to photos in the near future.

If interested in try it, Ono Ono™ brand Pasteles is currently available at Don Quijote @ $5.69 per 12.5 oz. vacuum-packed 2-pack sale price, with the regular price being $7.69. Not sure about availability and price at other retailers.

The Tasty Island Related links:
The Pastele Shop
Jackie’s Diner
Taste of Puerto Rico


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Comments

Ono Ono™ Pasteles — 17 Comments

  1. It’s too bad it wasn’t a winnah… I’ve been looking around OR for pastele and guess what? Nahten! when i enter the word “Pastele” in Yelp’s search box it’s as if I made up word entirely. Suckas in portland don’t make puerto rican I guess.

    looking forward to the gandule rice recipe. i make something similar, but it’s always too wet. see ya cuz!

  2. I’m bummed out too…I’m always on a lookout for good pastele town-side. I think there used to be someplace on Maui that made them too, but I was never able to find it on my visits.

  3. Pomai, my cousins in San Francisco been looking around for pasteles and unable to find it. In the Mission Dist where it a large Latin community still no pasteles. Guess when I visit them bring some over.

  4. Hey Pomai,
    i know this is a long shot but do you think you could start linking the images at the top of hte webpage to their respective articles? I always am so drawn in by the photography and when i want to read what the picture is of I have a difficult time working through the indexes (or i just forget) would be awesome if they were linked up somehow.

    • David – thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out. Good timing too! I think the pastele is a holiday food so perhaps I can convince the food cart people that they should add it to the menu for the holidays. (if they don’t already have it on the menu which would be Bettah!)

      • Good luck!

        Funny story – there’s a guy that used to park his truck on the road in our neighborhood, selling pasteles 3 for $5. I had never had pasteles so I kept passing him by for a couple of years. About a month ago, I finally decided to try pasteles at our local county fair. I loved it! Now that I want to eat it, the guy on the side of the road has vanished! He was there almost every single day for a couple of years and now he’s gone!

  5. A similar item to Puerto Rican pasteles is the Venezuelan hallaca (pronounced ‘ja ya ca’) However, the hallaca is primarily a Christmas food. It’s usually wrapped in a plantain leaf and secured with twine before steaming. Grew up eating them small keed time but it is very tedious to prepare.

  6. HEY DUMMYS! LEAVE THE PLASTIC WRAP ON WHEN YOU BOIL EMM.. HELUURRRRR. DONT YOU THINK IF YOU BOIL IT WITH WRAPPER ON THAT ITS GONNA BE WATERY AND JUNK?

    OMGAWW USE YOUR HEAD. THESE PASTELES WAS GOOD KAYY

    • Anuhea,

      Well, the instructions only say to boil it, not specifying to leave the package on or not, so we heated it up how you’d normally do homemade Pasteles, which are typically just wrapped in banana or ti leaves and/or foil (as are these), however with no vacuum-packaging to completely seal them as these have. Note, it wasn’t really boiled (immersed in water), but more steam-boiled so that the water didn’t infiltrate the masa.

      As for the taste, we didn’t think it was “watery and junk”, but mostly that it lacked that overall familiar flavor and texture profile that we’re used to with Pasteles made in Hawaii (like from the local mom ‘n pop market, or guy selling them on the side of the road). Not surprisingly, they came across as being mass produced, and as also noted, gave the impression that it was frozen for a long period of time.

      To be fair though Anuhea (nice name, btw!), we’ll give Ono Ono Pasteles another shot and boil it in the package next time, as you so adamantly suggested. ;-)

      P.S. This looks like the true “Hawaii style” Pasteles (and Gandule Rice) we compare them all with:
      A Puerto Rican Holiday Feast – Honolulu Star Bulletin

  7. I have purchased pastele @ Foodland @ Staduim mall next to Kmart. I think it is much better than the Pastele Shop in Kalihi.
    A lady makes it homemade and sells it to them. I heat it in the micro for a few minutes, of course removing the foil. It is wrapped in leaves. I add a few drops of shoyu to it . Also chili peppers to my taste. It sells out really fast, ad they only buy a small amt. I can say It’s broke your mouth kind. i should get down and make my own. My boy’s are asking for it.. They’re on the mainland. Food are not the same anymore. It’s becoming a lost art. I used to think of it as a chore. As i was the one in the kitchen with my Aunt. We never used tomato sauce

    • amy,

      So this Pastele you’re talking about isn’t the Ono Ono brand, but a homemade type sold exclusively at that Foodland location? If so, I’d also recommend the Pasteles sold at Alicia’s Market. Pretty much as good as it gets!

  8. Gandule rice recipe:
    Cook rice(amount that u use daily)
    2 cilantro finely chopped
    Minced garlic (8 love’s)
    1 can pigeon green peas (Gandule beans)
    2 can tomato sauce
    1 can pitted olives drained
    1 pnd pork leg

    Heat 1/2 cup oil add 1/3 cup achotte seeds on medium until red remove from stove drain oil set aside
    In a huge pot add 2 tbl spoon oil add pork garlic and onion until natural juices accumulate
    Add olives cilantro beans tomato sauce bring to simmer redce uheat add achotte oil cook for 20 minutes
    Lay out cooked rice into pan pour meat mixture over rice mix throughly until there’s no white grain add salt to taste
    Heat oven at 350 until Gandule rice top dries….enjoy

  9. Gracelynn,

    Mahalo for the Gandule Rice recipe. I shall try it! The Gandule Rice recipe I’ve used in the past calls for Sazon Goya seasoning, which comes powdered in packets.

    http://www.goya.com/english/product_subcategory/condiments/sazon-bouillon

    Another Latin dish similar to Gandule Rice that I really love is Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken & Rice). So ono! I’ll blog the dish (my uncle’s recipe) later.

    Dang, now you made me hungry for some Pasteles!

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