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Friday, April 27, 2012

Number 12: Pamonhas de Sal from Pamonhas

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM

A savory pamonha from Pamonha's. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • A savory pamonha from Pamonha's.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


There are only a few places in the United States where you can find pamonhas (pah-MONE-yahs), Brazilian fresh corn tamales, and one of them happens to be a little green-walled cafe in Daly City named after its signature dish. Pamonhas may even be more labor-intensive to make than their Mexican and Salvadoran counterparts: The cooks must grate dozens, if not hundreds, of ears of fresh corn, then stir the corn with milk and salt or sugar (they come in savory and sweet varieties), and pour the batter into corn husks. Folded the corn-husk packets and steaming or boiling them them is half a day's labor alone.

By contrast, unwrapping one of Pamonha's savory pamonhas de sal ($4.99) takes a few seconds -- you have to snip the string tying the packet together, then peel away husk after husk, the smell of fresh corn intensifying as you go. And finally you reach the steamy tamal itself, the color of a ripe lemon. But it's not as dense or as grainy as many dried-corn tamales. The starches in the grated kernals have swollen as the pamonha has cooked, binding the mass into something like a corn pudding. It's as buttery as it is vegetal, with a center vein of melted cheese that contributes a delicate tang. Even the savory pamonha tastes a little like dessert, and when Pamonha's cooks add in Brazilian sausage, it's a full meal in itself.

Pamonha's Brazilian Cuisine: 6005 Mission (at Templeton), Daly City, 585-4828.

Other favorites in this series:

13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll

14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina

15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse

16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas

17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil

18: Auntie April's fried catfish

19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog

20: Saha's vegan kibbeh

21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann

22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo

23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's

24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan

25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack

26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli

27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke

28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich

29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket

30: Custard buns from City View

31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami

32: Panisse frites from Frances

33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi

34: Fatted Calf's chorizo

35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas

36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager

37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company

38: Broken Record's crawfish grits

39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 

40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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