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South American Empanadas Latin Food


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An empanada is a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling, common in Latin American and Filipino cultures. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, and literally translates as “breaded”, that is, wrapped or coated in bread. They are made by folding dough over a filling, which may consist of meat, cheese, corn, or other ingredients, and then cooking the resulting turnover, either by baking or frying.

They resemble turnovers from many other cuisines and cultures, including the pasty from the British Isles, the samosa from the Central and South Asia, or the pirozhki from Russia.

Empanadas trace back their origins to the northwest region of Spain, Galicia. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, Libre del Coch by Robert de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood in the recipes for Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food.
United States

Empanadas, mainly based on South American recipes, are widely available in New York City, New Jersey, and Miami from food carts, food trucks, and restaurants. Empanadas are usually found in U.S. areas with a large Hispanic population, like San Antonio and Los Angeles.

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Find here a recipe to make shrimp skewers

Venezuelan Empanadas


This is a very traditional dish in Venezuela. There is a variety of stuffing traditionally used, and you can choose anything, beef, pork, chicken, ham, cheese, or tuna. Basically whatever you want. For a Mexican version pair the empanadas with guacamole.

This version is my favorite, using ground beef filling. The list of ingredients has been simplified so we can prepare a very easy version.


Ground beef filling

  • 500 gr ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 stalk parsley chopped
  • 1 stalk coriander chopped
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 750 ml sunflower oil
  • 118 ml of water


  • 500 gr pre-cooked yellow corn flour (P.A.N. brand)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. Add the ground beef, 2 tbsp sunflower oil and all the rest of the ingredients, except the water, in a pan.
  2. Cook them on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add then the water, put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime start with the dough. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in together in a bowl. Gradually add water into the flour mixture while kneading until all the flour is incorporated. Keep kneading the dough for about 10 minutes more or until it’s firm and does not stick to your hands anymore.
  5. Take a piece of dough and make a ball of 120 gr. Roll the dough out with your hands in a 2 cm thick disk.
  6. Place around 1 tbsp of stuffing in the middle of the dough.
  7. Fold one side of the dough to the other side. Use a bowl to form the empanadas as a half-moon. Lightly press the edges with wet fingers to make sure they’re closed.
  8. In a deep pan heat the sunflower oil. Add plenty of oil so the empanadas are submerged in oil.
  9. Add the empanadas when the oil is really hot and fry the empanadas until golden brown.