Empanadas. An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Southern Europe, Latin America, the Southwestern United States, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanadas were brought to the Philippines by Spanish colonists and are still very popular today. There are hundreds of different variants of empanadas around the world. This one also comes from the cookbook Taste of Asia- Authentic Recipes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines and Japan by Steven Wheeler, and let me tell you, these little pockets of deliciousness rocked my world.
Honestly, when I first read the recipe, I thought it sounded kind of weird. Egg and pickle in the pocket? But, when I was in the Phillipines, I did have some empanadas with egg inside in the town of Vigan, so I thought I would give it a go. And boy was I happy! The egg makes a nice filling with the pork and the slight acidity and crunch of the pickle was a nice surprise.
I served these originally with this nice hot mango chutney that I found at the grocery store. The sweetness of the sauce made a nice contrast to the tanginess of the filling. However, when I was eating the leftovers, I would simply put a stripe of Sriracha across the top and call it good. Very good.
I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that reads this regularly that I love this dish. I love all pocket foods. Anytime you can get a delicious filling inside some kind of pasta, pastry, wonton, or whatever, I’m down. But, I am happy to add this one to my repertoire. It wasn’t complicated, it was delicious, and it was a new and delightful flavor profile that everyone seemed to love.
Filipino- Style Pork Empanadas
- 1 package puff pastry, defrosted
- 1 TB vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
- 1 medium pickle, chopped
- 2 TB freshly chopped parsley
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 TB water
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- flour for rolling pastry
- Optional: Chutney or Sriracha for serving
Heat 1 TB oil in frying pan or wok and add onions, garlic, and thyme. Soften without browning. Add the pork and paprika. Cook until browned. Season well with salt and pepper. Transfer meat mixture to a bowl and cool. When the mixture is cool, add the egg, pickle, and parsley.
On a floured surface, roll pastry into a 15 in square. Cut 12 circles 5 in in diameter. Roll scraps into a ball, flatten again, and cut out as many circles as you can. Place about 1 Tb of the filling in the center of each pastry circle. With a brush or with your fingers, spread a small amount of the egg mixture around the edges of the pastry. Fold in half and seal the edges.
Heat oil in a pot on your stove top over medium high heat. Get a small scrap of pastry and drop it in the oil. It should sizzle around the edges when it hits the oil. Fry pastries until golden brown. Move to a towel lined cookie sheet to drain. Serve with chutney.
Photographs by Jessica Yager.