Mandocas are delicious Venezuelan breakfast treats. They're made from a batter of sweetened cornmeal, green plantains, and grated white cheese. They taste a little bit like hush puppies, and are traditionally served with slices of queso fresco cheese. This recipe substitutes dark brown sugar for the traditional papelón, a molasses-like sugar left over from sugar cane processing. Look for yellow plantains, which is the color in between green (unripe) and black (very ripe).
- 1 yellow plantain
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds, toasted (optional)
- 8 ounces grated firm white cheese, like farmers cheese or queso blanco, finely grated
- 1/2 cup hot water, approximately
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Slice plantain crosswise into about 5 pieces, then place in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer gently until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain and let plantain cool enough to handle, then peel and mash well (or purée in a food processor or blender).
- Stir cornmeal, plantain, salt, anise seed, sugar and finely grated cheese together with a wooden spoon. Add water slowly, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until mixture comes together into a dough.
- The dough should be soft and kneadable, but not sticky. Let dough rest for ten minutes.
- Heat several inches of oil to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 16 pieces, and roll each one into a smooth ball. (If dough is too wet and sticky, add more cornmeal).
- Take each ball and roll into a log shape with the palms of your hands. Continue to roll into a cylinder on a counter top, until dough cylinder is 6-7 inches long. Bring ends together and overlap them to form a tear-shaped loop. Press ends together. Repeat with other pieces of dough.
- Fry loops of dough in oil until dark golden brown, turning once.
- Serve mandocas warm, with slices of queso fresco and/or butter.