If you are looking for a tasty snack for the whole family or to serve your friends, one of the delicious options is the empanada. It is a type of baked or fried turnover that is made of pastry and filling. This snack is popular in Southern European, Latin American, Indonesian, and Filipino cultures. The name empanada came from the Spanish verb “empanar” which translates to“enbreaded” or wrapped in bread. This wonderful snack is made by folding the dough over a filling, such as meat, cheese, and other ingredients, then cooking the resulting turnover either by frying or baking.
Aside from being served as appetizers or snacks, empanadas can also easily make a full and satisfying meal. You can also serve them alone or with dipping sauces. One of the most common empanada dipping sauces is the Argentinean chimichurri sauce. If you want to know more about this snack, read on as we are giving you an introduction to the delightful empanada.
History of Empanadas
Empanadas’ origins can be traced back to Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. They first appeared during the time of the Moorish invasions in Medieval Iberia. In 1520, a cookbook published in Catalan mentioned empanadas filled with seafood as one of its recipes of Catalan, French, Arabian, and Italian food. It is also believed that empanadas and a similar snack called calzones are both derived from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas.
Empanada is prepared similarly to a large pie that is cut in pieces in Spain and Portugal, making it a portable and hearty meal for working people. The filling of their empanadas usually includes chorizo, sardines, or tuna. But sometimes, they can also contain pork loin or codfish. Most of the time, the meat of fish filling is in a tomato, garlic, and onion sauce inside the bread.
There are many Galician immigrants in Latin America. That’s why the empanada has also become popular in that region. Aside from Latin America, the empanada was also carried to the Philippines by Spanish colonists, where they remain very popular up until the present time.
The empanada is a versatile dish or snack, and you can prepare it with so many different types of fillings. You can choose from traditional savory fillings to mouthwatering sweet fillings. In Spain, there are very traditional fillings called rellenos or condumios, and this varies from one country to another. In fact, even within the same country, different regions can have specific empanadas that they are popular for.
When it comes to selections for empanada fillings, the sky is the limit. You can stick to the classic fillings, or you can also create your own filling based on what you like or on inspiration from other dishes. You can combine different flavors or use the ingredients you have at the moment.
Making empanadas is also a great way to use seasonal vegetables and fruits. You can also think about classic pizza and tart combinations when choosing a good empanada filling. It’s because when certain ingredients work together in other dishes, chances are they will also work well as an empanada filling. Some of the other common empanada fillings you can choose from are chicken, turkey, cheese, chorizo and cheese, Argentinean beef, corned beef, and more.
The Empanada Dough
Empanada dough is usually made with wheat flour. But you can also make it by using cornflour, potatoes, yuca, cassava, or mashed plantains. You can also make some sweet empanada dough by using chocolate, almond flour, and then spice it with cinnamon and clove and other flavors that you want.
The preparation of the dough also depends on the cooking method, whether you are baking or frying the empanadas. Empanadas are mostly deep-fried or baked, but others cook them on a griddle or on a grill. If you do not have time to make empanada doughs, you can also buy ready-made ones at Latin grocery stores near you. But making the dough is very easy, especially if you own a food processor.
Aside from that, making your own dough will also allow you to customize and add other ingredients to the dough like your favorite herbs and spices. If you are looking into making healthier empanadas, you can also opt for organic flour or whole wheat flour.
Dipping Sauces for Empanadas
Some people also prefer to have a dipping sauce for their empanadas, while some like to eat them dry. One of the popular dipping sauces for empanadas is the traditional chimichurri sauce. It is made with parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, olive oil, red pepper, and vinegar. It is perfect for meat-filled empanadas. Aside from that, you can also opt for a balsamic chimichurri sauce, which uses balsamic vinegar and a higher ratio of fresh oregano.
If you are on a healthy diet, you can also dip your empanadas in an avocado sauce. It is made with fresh avocados, cilantro, lime, garlic, olive oil, hot peppers, and cumin. If you are into sweet sauces, then you can also try making some honey crème Fraiche sauce. It is a sweet cream topping sauce that is made with honey and crème Fraiche. It is perfect for fruit-filled sweet empanadas.
Just like the filling, dipping sauces for empanadas would also depend on your preferences, whether you want some hot and spicy sauce, sweet sauce, or savory sauce to match the flavor of your snack.
Empanadas in Different Countries and Regions
As mentioned earlier, empanadas also vary from places to places. To give you some ideas, here are how they are made and served in different countries and regions.
- Argentina: In Argentina, empanadas are usually served during parties and festivals as a starter or sometimes the main course. There are also shops there that specialize in freshly made empanadas with lots of flavors and fillings. During Lent and Easter, they make empanadas de Cuaresma fillings with fish.
- Belize: Empanadas are called panades in Belize. They are made with corn dough and are stuffed with chicken, fish, or beans. They are cooked by deep-frying and are served with cabbage or salsa topping. They are sold as street food in Belize.
- Cape Verde:Empanadas in Cape Verde are called pastel. They are usually filled with spicy tuna. One specific variety is the pastel com o diabo dentro, which is spicy. Its dough is made from cornmeal and sweet potato.
- Chile: Empanadas are a staple part of the national cuisine in Chile. During the country’s national day celebrations, they are commonly consumed in large quantities. Many people here consider empanadas as their most representative dish. The most common empanada here is the empanada de pino. It is filled with diced or ground beef sautéed with onions and other spices and then baked.
- Indonesia: Empanadas are called panada in Indonesia. They have a thick crust made from fried bread and are filled with spicy tuna and chili, potatoes, quail eggs, and curry.
- Philippines:In the Philippines, empanadas are usually filled with ground pork, beef, chicken, potatoes, chopped onions, and raisins, which is similar to the Cuban picadillo. The dough is made with somewhat sweet wheat flour. There are two kinds of empanadas here, which are baked and fried. In the northern part of Ilocos, empanadas are filled with green papaya, mung beans, and chorizo and egg yolk. In other parts of the Philippines, empanadas are filled with garbanzo beans, chopped sweet potato, and are served with a sweet vinegar dipping sauce.
- United States: In the U.S., empanadas are based mainly on South American recipes. You can purchase empanadas in New York, New Jersey, and Miami, from restaurants, food carts, and food trucks. They are usually found in U.S. areas that have a large Hispanic population like in Los Angeles and San Antonio.
The empanada is indeed a delectable snack that you can serve to your friends or family, whether for parties or as an afternoon snack. We hope the information we shared gave you more ideas about the delightful empanada snack.