Guanimos (Cornmeal and beef pockets)

Guanimos (Corn pockets)

Am I ever glad that I have never called myself an expert on anything. Especially not an expert on Dominican food.

Every time I learn something about food in general, or Dominican food in particular, I’m justly reminded that there is much to learn, and with things changing all the time one never finishes learning. This dish is an example of that.

Guanimo, a Taino name by the sound of it, probably hails from the northwestern provinces of the Dominican Republic. I make this assumption based on the fact that the only people who know what I’m talking about when I mention this dish are all from my home town of Montecristi.

Then I found out that there’s a similar dish, with a similar-sounding name, originating from the southern regions of the country that is also based on corn and made like a pocket, but it’s a dessert!

Guanimos (Corn pockets)

I have a suspicion that this dish was originally prepared using corncobs, but this is just a hunch as the one I’ve always known is made with fine cornmeal.

A quick Google search shows this dish claimed as Cuban and also Puerto Rican too (there are differences between the dishes). This suggests that the dish, which has a Taino name, predates all three countries as separate entities and perhaps is just a remnant of times when the islands all belonged to Spain. If this is so Guanimo should join casabe as one of our “ancient” foods.

Guanimos (Corn pockets)

The addition of Scotch bonnet peppers is my own. Usually this is served, like pasteles en hoja, with ketchup and hot sauce on the side, but I just decided to make it spicy inside. So this is more like my own version of a dish that seems to have many incarnations.

Tía Clara

Guanimos (Corn pockets)
These delicious cornmeal pocketshail from the northern part of the Dominican Rep. You can also fill the Guanimos with chicken, cheese or other filling of your choice.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 3 cups of cornmeal
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth at room temperature
  • 16 corn husks or similar number of parchment paper
  • Cotton string
  • Ketchup
For the filling
  • 1 lb. of minced beef
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1 sprig of recao/cilantro ancho/culantro
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, without seeds (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Making the filling
  1. Use the food processor to make a paste with the pepper, scotch bonnet, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of salt.
  2. Mix this paste with the minced beef.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the beef to the oil and cook and still until it changes color throughout.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and cook and stir until the liquids have evaporated.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Cooking the cornmeal
  1. Mix the cornmeal and the broth and let it soak for an hour.
  2. Cook the cornmeal over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken.
  3. Lower the heat and cook and stir until it thickens to a cream cheese-like consistency.
  4. The cornmeal with not be entirely cooked but it will be done later on.
  5. Remove from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
To assemble
  1. Place two tablespoons of cornmeal on a corn husk and flatten. Add one tablespoon of filling and cover with two tablespoons of cornmeal.
  2. Make into an envelope shape and cover with one or more corn husks until it is waterproof. Tie with the string.
  3. Place ½ gallon of water in a large pot and boil over high heat.
  4. Once the water breaks the boil place the cornmeal in the pot and boil for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the water and the husks and serve.
  6. Garnish with ketchup.
I suggest that you wrap the guanimos in corn husks, then in parchment paper to make sure that they are sealed. When time comes to put them on the table remove the paper.

I love unwrapping them on the table as they look like little gifts.

Originally posted March 2004.

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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Maria April 21, 2015, 7:41 PM

    Yo voy para punta cana, me gustaria conocerte
    Soy Dominicana pero tengo años de vivir en Estados Unidos
    Maria Montes

    • Aunt Clara April 26, 2015, 1:42 AM

      Hola María, ¿puedes enviarme un mensaje privado en nuestra página de Facebook?

  • Evelyn Jimenez November 19, 2014, 4:36 PM

    Aunt Clara, I also remember visiting the mountains of Santiago about 16 yrs ago and they also had Guanimos. These were the same size of these or pasteles en hoja, maybe even a little bigger, made from yucca, with or without beef and they were deep fried in Manteca (lard). I remember that our friends would have them made and bring them to the US, the ones with no meat they would serve with coffee.

  • Malena December 11, 2012, 12:13 PM

    These look delicious! I’ll probably leave out the scotch bonnets, though. Too hot for me! Yes, in Puerto Rico we call these guanimes, not guanimos, and they’re a little different. They don’t have any filling, they are “ciegos” and traditionally are served with bacalao guisado on the side. They are delicious but I think it’s a dish that is hardly ever made anymore. Time to bring it back, I say. :)

  • Ingrid September 16, 2012, 8:59 PM

    I absolutely love your site, Gracias! My parents are from DR; La Romana. I was born here in NYC. My mom is a great cook and has passed this gift to me (so I’ve been told). My mom cooks w/out a recipe; un chin de esto, un poco de aquello; “porque no me queda higual.” Now, I know why. I love your historical tidbits. We have more in common with so many different countries it’s crazy. My boyfriend for example is from Brazil. He of course knows a good “arroz and habichuelas negras.” He also knows and misses, Mavi, and kipes.
    I remember Dona Jina’s kipes, and my Madrina’s (que en paz descanse) pastelon de harina; I could eat it every day. My mom makes “pescado con coco” for Easter and Pasteles en Oja for Christmas.

  • Andy August 22, 2012, 6:55 PM

    My goodness, and I thought I knew my country…You guys have awaken a desire in me for my native dominican food like never before.. Please keep sharing those unknown or forgotten recipes from D.R.

  • Miriam April 4, 2012, 11:16 AM

    this looks so amazing and I will try them. Do they fold like a Puerto Rican Pastel? I can't wait. Thanks you so much for all the wonderful foods you share.

    Miriam Santiago

    Chicago, Illinois

  • rosaura sanz March 6, 2012, 12:10 PM

    i think you ment tie with string. not without??

    • Aunt Clara March 6, 2012, 12:34 PM

      You are right, brain hiccup. I will fix it now. Thanks!

  • Clariza February 15, 2012, 3:23 PM

    And my mother's name is also Clara like u!

    • Aunt Clara February 15, 2012, 7:14 PM


      • Clariza February 15, 2012, 7:37 PM

        Creo k te llamare Tia de ahora en adelante.

  • Clariza February 15, 2012, 3:17 PM

    I was born in Montecristi! My parents are from there too! I would go every summer. My mom's parens are from Los Conucos. Wow, what n honor!

  • Ana Fortuna February 15, 2012, 7:56 AM

    Glad to know you are from Montecristi! I am to, I love your blog. Even though I don't comment much I come here everytime I am cooking a Dominican dish and I want another persons suggestions to make a meal. Thank you so much for all your good work!

    • Aunt Clara February 15, 2012, 8:00 AM

      Hello, compueblana! Thanks for visiting, and specially for commenting. I love your comments and suggestions.

  • Mari February 15, 2012, 7:26 AM

    These taste great! I could eat and eat and eat it all the time! Thanks for sharing your way of making this recipe. Look delicious!

  • Aunt Clara April 23, 2011, 7:57 PM

    Hypatia, if you read the recipe carefully you will notice that you skipped an important step:

    “Soak the cornmeal in the broth…”. Or words to that effect.

    Please read the recipes carefully.

  • Hypatia April 23, 2011, 7:30 PM

    The directions should have read:

    "Soak the corn flour in the broth a couple of hours before starting to cook. Then, put the mixture in an iron pot and mix in the sugar. Put on the stove, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Adjust salt to taste. When it breaks a boil lower the fire to medium and continue stirring until it reaches the consistency of a firm dough. Let cool to room temperature."

    that little detail messed everything up for me and I had to work backwards.

  • Hoda March 30, 2011, 6:35 AM