Empanadas from Colombia
Empanadas are eaten all over the world. They originated in Galicia, Portugal, and Spain and there are references of them in Persia hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The word empanada is derived from the Spanish verb, to bread, to bake as in pastries. Basically it means wrapped bread. The dough of the empanada is wrapped around a variety of food stuffings, depending on what country or region of that country where they are served. In the Valle de Cauca, the department of Colombia where I live, they are traditionally filled with ground beef, yellow potatoes and various spices.
Empanadas are made from different types of flours and corn meals around the world. In Colombia the empanada is made from masarepa, a precooked cornmeal. Either the yellow or the white masarepa can be used.
The empanada can be purchased in Colombia in a variety of places. They are sold on the streets by street vendors, in restaurants, and in grocery stores. The empanada is probably the most common street food available in Colombia. The Colombian empanada is almost always deep fried in oil, but they can be baked also.
The empanada is always served with a sauce called aji. There are other sauces served with the empanada, but aji by far is the most popular sauce. The aji sauce consists of cilantro, green onions, pepper, vinegar, salt, lemon or lime juice, and bits of avocado. It is a spicy sauce that goes well with the empanada.
Below is a picture of an empanada made in Cuba filled with a ground beef mixture called picadillo. I am also including a picture of of empanadas being filled and wrapped.
I am including a video showing how to prepare the basic empanada dough. It is a process for the purist. If one does not want to go to the trouble of making the dough, one can buy the dough in rounds in the grocery store. They are used for a variety of foods and can be found in the frozen food department.
How to Make Empanada Dough
The best flour to use when making empanadas is the "masarepa."
The next video shows how to make a popular filling to stuff inside the empanadas. In this video the empanadas are baked in the oven, but the traditional empanada is deep fried in oil at a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beef Filling for Empanadas
Aji Sauce Recipe
The following recipe is for making the very popular aji sauce that is served in Colombia along with the empanadas. This particular recipe is a recipe from a website called My Colombian Recipes. I have altered it a bit to my liking.
The aji sauce is a spicy sauce that is very popular for dipping or placing on the empanada while eating them. It is a sauce that can be put on meats or used a s a dipping sauce for other Latin foods. It is a must sauce when consuming empanadas.
1/2 ripe avacado in bits
1 seeded jalapeno pepper choppped
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped scallions
½ cup chopped tomato
1. Place the vinegar, water and jalapeno pepper in a blender, and blend for 2 minutes.
2. Place the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the vinegar and jalapeno mix to the bowl and mix well.
3. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Eat and enjoy your empanadas. You should have all of the ingredients available. The most important ingredient 'masarepa" can be purchased on line. If you want to make the beef filling as shown in the video, you will need the Goya Sofrito, which can also be purchased on line.