July 20, 2006
Empanadas or Unhealthy (but tasty) Colombian vegetarian cuisine: Part 3 in a series

empanadas_jf1.jpgI recently did a search on this great cooking website I like to go to (TooManyChefs) and was kind of surprised that there was not one recipe for empanadas. Now maybe I should have searched for sambusac or some such related stuffed dough but I didn't. I think someone once did some samosas here.

The empanada is popular all around Ibero-America (been looking for a chance to use that word) and has been for many moons. Stuffed with, essentially, whatever is local - (if you'll allow me to generalize) fish on the coast, meat inland, potatoes and peas in poorer areas. Aside from what's inside, another line of demarcation is whether they are baked or fried. If you couldn't guess from the title of this post, they are almost always fried here (occasionally they are baked, but it's rare) and that's what we'll be doing too.

Here in Colombia, the most popular types are chicken (the more gourmet ones will have an olive and raisins in there as well), beef (usually with some potato), and cheese (which is rather sweet). Since I can't choke down more than one sweet cheese empanada (and because we keep a vegetarian kitchen), I'm choosing to use a tofu/okara mixture in these empanadas. If you're in the area, stop by Deli Soya (Cll 78 # 12-03) for lunch. The filling I'm using here are the burgers they sell for take away, which are nicely spiced. If you are going to use meat filling, cook and shred the meat before adding it as a filling.


Yellow corn flour
Filling of your choice

Put some flour in a big bowl. Add room temperature water and mix with your hand until you get something that resembles dough. I didn't measure how much flour or water, but I remember thinking it seemed like a lot of water, but it gets absorbed. Let sit for about 15 minutes.


Take a plastic bag and rip it so that it's one long sheet of plastic. Rub a little oil on the plastic and throw down a small ball of dough. Fold the plastic over and between the two sheets of plastic, roll out the dough to be fairly thin. Open up the plastic, put a teaspoon or two of filling on the dough, fold over the dough onto itself (with the plastic) and cut out an empanada with the top of a jar, etc (I was using an old yogurt container). When you lift the plastic, you should get a nicely pressed out stuffed ball of pastry. Hopefully the pictures below will give you an idea of what I'm trying to describe here.

Take those to the fryer for a few minutes on each side until the dough is crispy. Remove to paper towel and serve. Eat them all up, because they don't keep the fridge. The dough gets all weird.


Posted by Justin in Bogotá at July 20, 2006 7:42 PM Print-friendly version

Mmmmm. Looks bloody georgous.. I’ll have some. :-)

Posted by Annet on July 21, 2006 at 2:08 AM

It's hard to find good vegetaian empanadas. Do you have the details on the tofu/okara filling?

Posted by barrett on July 21, 2006 at 4:03 PM

I don't have the recipe for the filling. I wonder if I asked nicely, if they'd share the recipe with me. I would recommend using your favorite veggie burger from the frozen food section.

Posted by Justin on July 21, 2006 at 4:07 PM

Barrett, I've been making a thoroughly inauthentic but very delicious vegetarian empanada with baked mashed sweet potato, black beans, chiles, scallions, corn, and spices bound together with an egg.

Posted by Elsa on July 23, 2006 at 2:15 PM

Barrett, I've been making a thoroughly inauthentic but very delicious vegetarian empanada with baked mashed sweet potato, black beans, chiles, scallions, corn, and spices bound together with an egg.

Posted by Elsa on July 23, 2006 at 2:18 PM

It looks really easy and i hope i can use this for my project your really good at this arent you.

Posted by rosa on November 16, 2006 at 8:48 AM

I am so happy to have found this recipe!! Maybe you can help me a step further. I have memories of my mothers empanadas from when I was young. She passed when I was 13. I can remember some of the ingredients but not sure of the spices. As I read your description of the cheesy type. I clearly remember hers has rice, raisins maybe ground beef. Possibility there were olives, I think that may have been the taste I remember masked by the raisins. Do you know any fillings remotely close? I remember she made me stuffed cabbage too, that had rice,raisins and ground beef too. Deep fried platanos, I could go on with all the things I remember and want to cook. Is there a good resource for colombian recipes?

Posted by Jacquie on December 25, 2006 at 3:33 PM

Amazing latino food. Truly love latin american fares. Here in Montreal, we have some genius latin Chefs. I have just reviewed one of them on my blog: Mario Navarrette Jr @ Raza restaurant. He is a great ambassador of the latin american modern cuisine. Thanks for your great articles. I've bookmarked your web site since I love great latino food.

Posted by S Lloyd on August 15, 2010 at 7:39 PM
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