Tag Archives: cornmeal

Sopa Paraguaya vs. Chipaguazú

13 Aug

A while ago I shared with you all my friend’s Rosani recipe for Sopa Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Soup… which is really not a soup. Sopa Paraguaya is a sort of corn pudding made from cornmeal and cheese.

When I visited Paraguay earlier this year, the first thing I wanted to taste was a Sopa Paraguaya made in Paraguay by Paraguayans. I always want to taste how the original versions taste and how they compare to the versions we create at home. I told you once that what I call Sopa Paraguaya is called Chipaguazú over in Paraguay. Well, not exactly true…

There are two dishes made in Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú. They are different from each other…

Thanks to my friend Ester… a whole crew went to her house one day to cook for the whole yoga group, but also to cook some soy and yuca fritters for a shelter of homeless boys and girls. She was gracious enough to cook to cook both Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú side by side so that I could see firsthand how the recipes differ from each other.

They’re both made from corn… they’re both baked. That’s about where the similarities end.

Sopa Paraguaya

 

 

  • It’s made from cornmeal flour mixed for a long time with milk, butter, baking powder, salt and anise seeds. The anise seeds are particular to the Sopa Paraguaya recipe.

  • This yields a very smooth batter that is poured into a baking dish lined with banana leaves. You pour only ½ the batter and add cooked onions, Paraguay cheese and butter beans. When you pour the second half of batter, the filling gets sandwiched in between.

 

 

Chipaguazú

  • It’s made by grinding fresh corn kernels. These people usually grind them by hand. To the ground corn you add some milk, but not a lot, cooked onions and salt. No cheese!!!!

 

  • The corn batter is poured into a baking dish lined with banana or plantain leaves.

We baked them using a wood burning oven… I know my friends from Serious Eats Water Cooler would go crazy over that oven… I was dying to make some cool pizzas there!!!! 😉

 

Here are both dishes after baking for about 30-45 minutes…  Chipaguazú is at the left and the Sopa Paraguaya is on the right.

The verdict… as delicious as these traditional recipes are, the Sopa Paraguaya we make here in Puerto Rico is actually my favorite!!! Maybe because it’s a hybrid of these two recipes. We use cornmeal that we cook a bit over the stove, add cooked onions, corn kernels and grated cheese to the batter. And in my humble opinion, I prefer our hybrid version to any of the originals. I think we have taken what’s great about each and combine it into one great dish.  I feel a bit like Tyler Florence with his TV show, Tyler’s Ultimate…

Even though Rosani now likes to now make Chipaguazú at the Yoga Center, I will continue to make our local version of Sopa Paraguaya because to me, it tastes THE BEST!!!!

 

Have you ever had traditional Sopa Paraguaya or Chipaguazú?? How does it compare to my original recipe???

 

Advertisements

Sopa Paraguaya

16 Aug

Every Wednesday, Serious Eats gives us readers a challenge for the weekend based on articles found in newspapers around the US.  This past weekend’s challenge was to create something delicious with CORN.

I’ve been meaning to learn my friend Rosani’s recipe for Sopa Paraguaya for some time now.  And just like I do every time – I gather the recipe, I gather the ingredients and then… something comes up and the ingredients stay in the cupboard indefinitely.  That’s why I was so glad to hear about this challenge because it would give me the chance to make this Sopa Paraguaya once and for all…

Sopa Paraguaya translates literally to Paraguayan Soup.  It’s not technically a soup – it’s more like a corn bread or a polenta… and about the Paraguayan part… well, it’s from Paraguay but if you’re ever there, don’t ask for a Sopa Paraguaya because these are known there as “chipa guazú”. 

UPDATE  11-03-2012:   If you indeed get to visit Paraguay like I did back in March, you’ll see that this version I learned originally is more like a hybrid of what they traditionally call a Sopa Paraguaya and a Chipaguazú.  Check out the distinctions between the 2 traditional dishes here.

PARAGUAYAN SOUP

½ packet (3/4 cup) cornmeal
8 oz (1 cup) frozen corn kernels – defrosted
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs of butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 ½ cups evaporated milk
1 ½ cups regular or soy milk
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
½ tbs baking powder
2 links of Veggie Hot Dogs, sliced (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Canola oil Spray
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, add the oil, butter and onion.  Add a little salt and pepper to help the onions release their juices.  Sautee until onions turn translucent.  Add the veggie dog slices and heat thru.
  3. Add the milks and let them warm through.  Add the cornmeal slowly while whisking to avoid creating lumps.  Keep on whisking once in a while until the mixture thickens.  Add the baking powder.  Add the corn kernels and shredded cheese.  Mix well so the corn kernels are evenly distributed within the mix and the cheese has melted.  Take off the stove.
  4. Transfer to an oven baking dish that has been sprayed with canola oil.
  5. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Let rest for about 15 minutes to allow it to set before cutting into it…

I have loved sopa paraguaya ever since I first had it at the Yoga Center… now, thanks to Rosani, I can make it anytime I crave it.   The veggie dogs are not necessary, but I think they add a nice touch to it.

Pumpkin Polenta

30 Oct

I am a fan of Italian flavors… and this recipe fits very well with the flavors of autumn.   We do not have autumn here in Puerto Rico, but pumpkin is a favorite of mine and I wanted to do something that would highlight the flavor and nutrition of the pumpkin.  Plus, I still had some pumpkin seeds in my fridge I wanted to use up…

 Pumpkin Polenta

 

PUMPKIN POLENTA

1 ½ cups of pumpkin, peeled and cubed
4 tbs quick cooking polenta
½ cup of water
½ cup of milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted – as garnish

 

  1. First we steam the pumpkin… place in a steamer for about 10-15 minutes to cook thoroughly.  After the pumpkin is done, mash it well and place it in a colander lined with a coffee filter or a paper towel and let the moisture of the pumpkin drain out a bit.  This can be done well in advance before moving on to the rest of the steps.
  2. Then we make the polenta… I heat the water, milk and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Add the polenta while stirring to avoid getting lumps.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the desired consistency, which is like a smooth cream of wheat.  I’ll be honest; I follow the instructions on the polenta package I buy.  If the instructions on your package are different, follow the instructions on your package, but what I do is to replace ½ the water the recipe calls for milk – makes a creamier polenta, in my opinion.
  3. When the polenta reached the desired consistency, add the drained pumpkin puree, the grated cheese and season with pepper.  Stir well for the cheese to melt and the pumpkin to combine well with the polenta cream.
  4. Serve warm and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Great vegetarian alternative for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner… don’t you think?

Sorullitos de Maíz- Cornmeal Fritters

4 Jan

After a whole week of fasting, these sorullitos de maíz were the first actual food I ate after I finished my spiritual retreat.  Not the best choice, but you have to “go with the flow”. And the quality of these sorullos, it was well, well worth it.

I visited my sister on New Year’s Day…  She had welcomed the New Year with her husband and his family at their house with a typical Puerto Rican fare – arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), pasteles (a plantain or yucca- based boiled “thing” similar to a tamal), pernil, potato salad, etc. – and the only vegetarian-suitable thing on the menu were these sorullos…  pero qué sorullos!!

My brother-in-law made the recipe according to Carmen Valdejuli’s recipe, the author of Cocina Criolla and the authority on Puerto Rican Cooking.  (The book also comes in an English version.)  He did double the batch because he was unsure of how many sorullos the recipe would yield.  Apparently he was too busy to read right underneath the recipe’s title it yielded 50 sorullos… so he made enough to make 100.  My sister said she was not making 100 sorullos, so she made these “mega sorullos” – not that thick, but extra long.  Regular sorullos are usually about the size of a small index finger.  These ones are like 6 inches long.  But you get the drift.

Most cornmeal bags – at least the ones sold in Puerto Rico – include a sorullito recipe on the packaging.  They’re easy to follow and very reliable.  This recipe, to me it’s the ultimate… the Gouda cheese is melted into the batter giving them a really nice and salty taste.  Some people add a little piece of cheese inside the sorullito so that it melts inside when you fry them.

sorullitos-maiz

SORULLITOS DE MAIZ

Recipe from Carmen Valdejuli, Cocina Criolla – Makes about 50 sorullitos

2 cups of water
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cup cornmeal
1 cup Edam cheese, grated – my brother-in-law used Gouda cheese…
 

1.  Bring the water with salt to a boil. Take away from the heat and add the cornmeal. Quickly, mix the water and cornmeal together and cook under moderate heat. Continue mixing about 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture separates from the bottom and sides of the pot.

2.  Take away from the heat and add the grated cheese – you’ll see the mixture will loosen a bit when you add the cheese.

3.  Immediately, take spoonfuls of the mixture and form balls in the palm of your hands. Press them to form like small cigars of about 3 inches long. As you can see my sister/brother-ion-law version are much longer than the original recipe calls for.

4.  Fry them in plenty of vegetable oil at 375 F. Take them out when they’re golden and place them onto paper towels to drain the excess oil.

And the only way to enjoy sorullitos is with a great MayoKetchup Dip.  My brother-in-law showed me a new version of MayoKetchup.  A nice little twist with even more flavor… check it out.

This is not diet food… but it is certainly, food of the Puerto Rican gods…  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

%d bloggers like this: