Panamanian Dinner for DC Chowhound Friends

Yes I was baking the Mamallena in pijamas! hihihi

Talking to dear Steve and Penelope about having a potluck I always mentioned how I would love them to have a taste of Panamanian cuisine whenever it was possible, and since there is no restaurant in DC area that serves Panamanian cuisine I decided to take responsibility for spreading the love!

Having lunch at Cafe Assorti with them Penelope suggested me cooking for them with their help instead of having a Potluck, at first I thought yay it would be fun, then I thought what if they don’t like it?  Then I realized many of Panamanian dishes are very similar to Caribbean (Puerto Rico & Cuba), Ropa Vieja, Arroz con Pollo, etc.  So they wanted the not so common Panamanian dishes such as:


Hojaldres (fried bread)

Patacones rellenos con queso (double fried green plantains stuffed with cheese)

Empanadas de Maiz con Tuna (corn empanadas stuffed with tuna)


Chorizo Guisado (sauteed chorizo in tomato sauce)

Yuca al Mojo (cassava w/ lime juice, olive oil, garlic, butter & cilantro)

Lengua Guisada en Vino (cows tongue in wine sauce)

Ensalada Rusa o de Fiesta (russian potato salad, or party salad)

Sopa de Pata de Vaca (ox feet soup)

Arroz con Guandú y Coco (rice with coconut & green pigeon peas)

Saus (pickled pigs trotters)


Mamallena con Helado de vainilla (raisin bread pudding with vanilla ice cream)

Kekis (ginger-unrefined sugar cane-molasses-coconut soft cookies)

So as you can see there is no sancocho, or tres leches, or sopa borracha, or rabito de puerco or camarones al ajillo, from all the options I gave them this is what they pick and boy did I get great feedback.

On the negative side I learned a lot trying to make the corn empanadas, it was a difficult task because in Panama we use fresh cooked corn and then grind it, but Steve and I drove all the way to Landover to buy fresh Corn Masa just to find out they grind it uncooked, but it wasn’t all bad since that day we had the best chicken I’ve had in DC area so far, Jerk Chicken from a Jamaican joint, it made my day!

After the failure with the Fresh Masa which fried tasted like Frito Lays, I decided to use Masa Harina, at the same time my mom made some tests from Panama to check on this and she said it was perfect, but she used a different corn flour.  My masa harina did not work well, and so when I travel back to Panama this is something I have to learn more about, CORN!

I will share some thoughts and pictures and apologize for not having pictures of the dinner itself but just the process, it was a crazy weekend, started at the restaurant, started selling bread and this dinner, you can imagine.

Now let’s check it out!

Preparing Coconut for Rice and Kekis

This is the unfamous Beef Tongue

So its right tender make sure you boil it for 45mins- 1 hour with salt and water, a soft boil & clean properly.

Sautee your veggies and then add the Tongue

Once you add the Tongue sautee for few minutes and then tomato paste, sautee add water and wine and make sure you scrape  the bottom of the pot with your spoon to obtain those caramelization flavours to your sauce!

This is the final result, this dish I made a day ahead and simmered a little more before serving with a side of Patacones, yuca and Russian Potato Salad.

Chorizo Guisado was pretty simple, buy good chorizo, chop some vegetables, throw in oven 35 minutes at 375F then just toss in a pot with tomato sauce, sugar, water and chicken stock =)

Toast the coconut for the Kekis and grate ginger

Say hi to my daughter, Lady Mixer – For this Keki I worked a recipe by the Chef Melissa (Cooking Diva) and did some variations to it, I will share my recipe also!

And this is the delish delish Keki just as they sell it on the streets of Panama, a touch fluffier and more flavourful!

Brine chicken overnight, then marinate few hours with garlic, herbs & oil, pat dry and bake with some chicken fat until cook (i used dark meat for this).  Save the liquid and combine with chicken stock for cooking beets and shredded chicken for Potato Salad (delish flavours at the end!, promise will share recipe soon!).

Sao or Saus (Pickled Pig’s Trotters), for those interested on this I will share the recipe so you can give it a try, 50% love it, 25% didn’t care for it, 25% disliked it, so it’s a matter of taste, me I love it!

And my Empanada disaster, this is how I will end this post because yes it was a disaster, yes they took too much of my time, but also yes it is a new challenge i have yet to face again and again and again once I arrive in Panama! I must add they had good flavour though!

¡a comer!


  1. Gracias por visitar mi blog!

    Fíjate que en entras y te registras gratuitamente y ya, además puedes ayudar a muchas personas a informarse con respecto a lugares y comida panameña.

    Visitaré en junio-julio así que si tienes un chance de tiempo podemos almorzar en un lugar, me avisas qué tal tu agenda! =)


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