5 Panamanian Breakfasts that You Must Taste

Panamanian Breakfast

One of the indispensable things for Panamanians is breakfast, and I am not referring specifically to have breakfast, but to meals, although they are eaten more than everything at breakfast, we can eat at any time.

One of the main ingredients is corn, inherited from the ancient indigenous communities, we use this in grain and not in flour, if we would do it, it would no longer have the Panamanian flavor and instead of a Panamanian tortilla it would be more an arepa.

A difference between the countryside and the capital and is due above all to the lifestyle.

Many things are eaten roast or smoked in the countryside, but in the capital, there is not much time, so they eat fries, many also eat them in the fondas (a kind of small restaurant) (also fried).

Drinks with Panamanian Breakfasts

Panamanian Breakfasts are usually accompanied with coffee, now coffee is not that gourmet that you see in Airports, fine restaurants and cafes dedicated to it.

The coffee that Panamanians drink is from the brands that they sell in small coffee bags in the chinitos (grocery store), these vary in some provinces, since they have their own local brands or in some cases in the countryside, people grow it for their own drinks.

I had a great-aunt who, towards that, had her little coffee plantation and when I was little, I remember that my grandmother had a table where she would dry it.

Panamanian Breakfast can also be accompanied by black tea or a leaf that they have at home, whether it be lemon, orange, tangerine, soursop or already in the city, they are the bag that the supermarket sells.


Another option, which is one of my favorites, is the chichas (natural juices), it consists of the fruit juice (in Panama they are delicious), water and sugar, and in some cases, they add milk (such as the papaya smoothie), I just I use the fruit juice, water and voila, a delight.

Chicha de Nance (Nance drink)
Chicha de Nance (Nance drink).

These are the ones that undoubtedly drive us crazy, I have added some recipes.

Many Panamanian meals have no measures, they have it, as an orientation, but they are not required:

1.   Torregitas of corn with roasted port

Where they are eaten, they are fried and they are a delight.

The basis of this preparation is also made Changas, which are large tortillas, usually cooked on firewood.

And what about the roasted port, we love the port, you know what, for Christmas, especially in the contryside, the suckling pig or the roasted leg is eaten? In my house, my dad used to order one so that it was ready for Christmas.

Fresh Corn Torregitas Recipe

  • 1cup of fresh corn, threshed (they are like 4 ears)
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp water
  • salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender (or grind the corn, with the grinding machine, and then mix the others).

Put the mix in a pan or pot with very hot oil and place separate tablespoons of the mixture, cook on both sides.

Note for those who do not like frying: the mixture can be cooked as if it were a pancake, but the first side must be cooked covered so that it cooks well.

Torregitas
Torregitas with pork. Photo: Dana.

2.   Tortilla with beef steak with onion, beef steak chopped or liver

Tortillas can be individual, such as palm-sized discs, or larger than a plate.

As I told you, in the countryside they are usually eaten roast, so you will probably see them like this, the small ones are cooked in a casserole and on a stove.

But the big ones are made in a wood stove, they are also put in a casserole and on a plantain leaf, it is placed both above and below, this helps to rotate it, it does not dry out.

When it is cooked, I open it, as if it were bread and I usually add butter and a white cheese (national cheese), this is a delight.

Now accompanied by beef steak with onion or chopped, or with stewed liver, this is like a Sunday or birthday breakfast.

It is super delicious, but many Panamanians do not eat meat breakfast anymore, for the price, but when they can, they don’t. think twice.

Tortilla recipe

  • Cobs or corn (corn) or, hopped corn, it can be 1lb
  • Salt to taste

Add the corn kernels to a boil until they are soft, then grind them (if you do not have the grinding machine, you can use a food processor) knead and add salt.

Taste that it is good, form the tortilla and ready, go you can fry or roast it.

To roast, use a pan, casserole or pot, when it is very hot, add them, do not touch them and lower the temperature to the minimum, when they start to brown on the sides, you can take them off.  

I usually make them while I bathe, I put them before to go to the bath, when I go to dress, I turn them and when I am ready, I can have breakfast.


Tortillas with onion steak beef on  of the panamanian breakfast
Tortillas with onion steak beef. Photo: Dana.

3.   Bollo with national cheese

As you can see, the corn is very present in our food, in this case it is a corn that is boiled, ground, placed on a leaf that can be that of the husk (common in fresh corn bollo, it has its technique to remove the leaf without damage it) or palm leaf or plantain leaf (common in dried corn).

If there are two types of bollos, the one of fresh corn, the same grain is soft, but the bollo is more compact, and the one of dried corn is the opposite, a corn already dry.

But when the bollo is made, it is soft, you can also get varieties: with butter, coconut and the bollo preñao (which has chicken [or hen] or pork inside, common in Chorrera, and if it is over there, accompany it with a chicheme, drink made with corn and milk).

I remember a coworker from Chorrera, when he said, I’m going to bring bollo and chicheme, that was an order list.

The national cheese is a white cheese that is square (as well as tofu), it is available everywhere, it can be ground (with salt, my favorite) or pressed (it does not have salt), this cheese we accompany it with anyone breakfast.

I have an aunt who makes one that is a delight, I eat it alone at any time, I have to control myself If not, I would not leave anything for breakfast.

Once I went to buy it and my grandmother ate it all, she did not leave for breakfast hahaha.

Bollo recipe

  • 1 lb dried corn
  • salt to taste
  • leaf of palm or plantain
  • thread

The grain is boiled until soft, then it is ground, kneaded and given it the point of salt.

Then it makes a few rolls, we wrap it in leaves, they tie well, and they cook for half an hour.

If you want to make them preñao, in the center of the roll you add stewed and shredded chicken, with everything and the stew, without liquid.

bollo with cheese one of the Panamanian Breakfast
Left fresh corn bollo (Photo: JC), right national cheese.

4.   Carimañolas

Seeing them and not buying them is inconceivable.

When I am lining up to buy breakfast and I see that there are few left, I just pray that people buy something else, so that when they serve me, there will be.

They are like yuca croquettes, filled with ground beef. It is better to make them at home, to add enough filling.

Carimañolas recipe (practical recipe)

  • 1 lb yuca
  • sal to taste
  • Ground beef stew

Boil the yucca in pieces with salt until it is soft, but it is not falling apart, you take it out one by one and with a fork, crush it, so that there is a mas.

It should not cool before it is ground, nor leave much time in the water once the stove is turned off.

When we have the mass, we place a little in your hand and push it, add in the center a little of the stewed ground beef that we have, and join the sides.

I make them one day before eating them, I keep them in the fridge well covered and the next day I only cook them.

Note: Panamanian food has garlic, onion and culantro, if you want that Panamanian taste, these ingredients should not be missing in your stew.

Carimañolas
Carimañolas.

5.   Hojaldra with Picadillo

The hojaldras are available everywhere, when I see them, I order one and eat them as if they were a big cookie.

They are also usually accompanied with beef or liver steak, but the best is with picadillo (chopped stew).

When I buy picadillo, I order for several days and accompany it with hojaldra during the week.

If you go to Colón or meet someone from there, they call the hojaldra, harina (flour), and if it is very rare, every time I listen to it I think of the white powder used to make sweets and of course the hojaldra, but never I think they ask for a hojaldra, no matter that you already know, it always seems strange to me.

Some people also call it hojandre and correct it if one says hojandra, both are correct and the way of saying it depends on the place.

Hojaldra recipe

  • 2 cup flour
  • ¼ margarine stick
  • ½ cup cold water (from the fridge)
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Mix all the ingredients and knead a little (add the water little by little, you may need less).

Separate into balls about an inch, rest (here you can go to bathe or do whatever you want).

Put the oil to heat, that it is hot, but not much because they can be burned, stretch the balls with your hand, fry, only put one at a time.

With this recipe you don’t need to knead much.

Note: hojaldra is a fried bread.

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Hojaldra with picadillo one of the Panamanian Breakfast
Hojaldra with picadillo.



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