Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Tuna Empanadas

With the made-for-television weather and a holiday on Monday, I managed to see a lot of friends and eat some delicious food over the last four days. I ate Thai food, Mexican food, Ethiopian, Jewish Deli, California Vegetarian (and by that I mean I had the tofu scramble at Rita Flora Kitchen), Japanese and Italian. It made me realize - yet again - how great it is to live in LA and have access to pretty much any and all cuisines there are to sample. There is even great South American food to be had if you are willing to look for it. For my last Chilean recipe entry, I thought I would share Empanadas. A basic turnover, typically filled with cheese or beef it is popular as a street food and in homes and can be baked or fried. As a strange turn of events, I found I liked baked better. Here is a recipe I got from a chef in Santiago who (thankfully) spoke perfect English and knew how to convert. This is normally served as an appetizer with a hot chili sauce. Enjoy!

2 onions, chopped fine
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups best quality canned tuna in oil (I know it sounds funky, but it's really tasty)
Salt, dried oregano and pepper to taste
2 eggs, separated

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the onion in some of the oil from the tuna, until translucent. Lower the heat, then drain the tuna and add it along with the paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to heat through. Remove from heat and let cool. Drain off any excess liquid. When cool to the touch, add two egg yolks and one white, reserving the other egg white for glazing the dough.

For the dough:

4 1/2 cups sifted white flour
2 teaspoons table salt
1 cup vegetable shortening or butter
2 egga
2/3 cups ice water (seriously, make sure it has ice in it)
2 tablespoons white vinegar

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water and vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Stir to combine. Add the shortening (or butter) and blend with a fork or pastry blender until it seems like coarse meal (what is commonly called a peas and cornmeal appearance).

Add the egg mixture to the flour and stir to combine.

Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To use, roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness, cut out 5-inch circles. and fill.

To Compose:

Put about 1-2 tablespoons worth of your filling on the lower half of the circle, wet the upper rim with water, fold over to create a half moon, then using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges shut. Using a small knife, make three small vents in the top to allow steam to release. Place on a parchement paper lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes at 375 F or until golden brown.

Makes about 30 empanadas. They can be frozen up to 2 months.


The picture below (is totally copy writed) was taken by Alan Griffiths, who is a (wonderful man) friend of the family that traveled with us to Chile. I included his shot of the shrimp salad we had at the Manso de Velasco winery not only because it is just so beautiful, but also because, well, I’m just green with envy over how great it came out! (Then again, he IS a professional) I am always in awe of beautiful photography. I hope you will visit his site and see more of his gorgeous work,(and of course buy some, its very reasonably priced!) it is incredible.

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