Guava Paste or Goiabada
This stuff is a no-brainer. Whenever I hit up a Latin market (though I’ve also seen it in the ethnic isle of larger grocery stores), I pick up a pack of this paste, pasta de guayaba or goiabada. It’s guava purée that’s been cooked down with sugar and a bit of pectin. It sets into a semi-solid, gelatinous state – think membrillo or quince paste – and inflects everything it touches with that sweet, floral flavor, excellent with both savoury and sweet dishes.
Guava paste is used throughout Latin American cooking; from the Domican Republic to Colombia to Cuba to Mexico, guavas and guava paste are featured heavily, particularly paired with fresh cheese. This pair is often found together in its most simplest form, as cheese with slices of guava paste (which makes it extremely handy to keep on hand for a spur of the moment cheese plate), but I recently saw a recipe with guava paste, a beautiful white cheese, and dulce de leche all baked together in one happy puff pastry…umm, yum. how divine does that sound?? I’m definitely going to have to create my own incarnation.
Cookies, tarts, jelly rolls, cakes, soufflés, and turnovers – guava paste is used to enhance desserts throughout Latina cultura. And, believe me, a little guava thumbprint cookie or cheesecake doesn’t hurt anybody, but I do want to explore, beyond that, how to incorporate this gorgeous ingredient into other savoury dishes. A beautiful vinaigrette, for example, or an amazing barbecue sauce or glaze. I use quince paste in lamb meatballs, why not this? It has a flavor that just melds harmoniously, particularly with pork or chicken.
I would love to hear your family’s recipe for goiabada or how you may have uniquely incorporated this surprising ingredient into a dish!