Chrisal shares her take on the ever popular Venezuelan street food – EMPANADAS. These empanadas were a great way to get her fried food fix and are easy to make. They can be filled with anything you like – cheese, steak, veggies, black beans and eaten as is or with a dipping sauce. The corn flour gives a crispy exterior that is synonymous with anything deep fried.
Street food is that quick, satisfying and usually inexpensive meal that hits the spots every single time. Unfortunately with the current lockdown restrictions we’re unable to enjoy some of our favorite curbside delights. So what do you do when you’re craving all your favorite street foods and can’t get it?? You make it yourself.
This recipe for empanadas will surely curb your Street Food Tabanca.
2 cups of lukewarm water, or as needed 2 cups corn flour (white or yellow in the PAN brand) 1 tbsp wheat flour (OPTIONAL – if you want a slight chew) 1 tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt (as needed)
1 tsp of oil or melted butter
1 tsp of garlic powder (OPTIONAL)
2 cups shredded leftover chicken
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3 pimentos (finely chopped)
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 medium sweet pepper (finely chopped)
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tbs of roucou (optional)
1 tsp of ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Any filling can be used – soft white cheese, steak, fish, ham, black beans etc.
Dissolve sugar, salt, oil and garlic powder in water. Give a quick taste and adjust if needed. Slowly add in corn flour while mixing with your fingers or a wooden spoon. The flour will begin to swell as it absorbs the water and you are free to add more flour if it’s runny. Knead gently until it comes together and begins to feel slightly tacky in your hands. The dough should be soft, not stiff. If it is, then add a little more water.
Let rest for about 5 minutes then knead again. Divide in balls – you should get 8 – 10.
While the dough is resting, sauté the aromatics and season to taste. When the onions have become translucent, add in the shredded chicken and toss for 2-3 minutes. Next add tomato paste and/or Sazon seasoning pack and fully incorporate. Add a little water if needed – it should not be saucy.
Heat up about 2-3 cups of vegetable oil in a small to medium pan or wok. You are going for a deep fry here but a shallow fry can work, just ensure the oil is at least 1.5 to 2 inches from the bottom of the pan.
Test the oil temperature by placing a wooden spoon in it – if the bubbles are active, it’s ready. If the oil is smoking, remove from heat and cool for a bit before placing the empanadas in so as not to burn them.
Flatten a ball of dough on a piece of plastic wrap. You can use a Ziploc bag and cut it into 2 squares. Lightly grease the surface with some oil and place the dough ball on it. Cover it with the other piece of plastic and gently roll with a rolling pin. You should only have to do this twice in each direction (horizontal and vertical). It should be 1/2 cm thick. If using your hands, make sure it is wet when handling the dough to prevent cracks. You can also use a pastelle press.
Place filling in the middle and resist the urge to stuff it excessively. A spoonful or a little more would be sufficient. Carefully fold one side of the dough over to meet the other side and press gently to seal. To get a perfect crescent or half-moon shape, you can use a spoon to trace out the edge. The leftover dough can be added to the other dough balls you have prepared.
Next, slide into the hot oil, positioning it away from you to avoid getting burned from oil splatter. If it’s not submerged, you can base the top of the empanada with oil to help speed up the cooking. It takes 4-5 minutes per side so when the edges begin to turn a slight golden brown, flip.
Place on a paper towel to drain and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!