Shrimp Empanadas made with corn dough and served with an avocado crema
Empanadas span the globe, from India, Europe, The Caribbean to South America and beyond. They can be baked, fried, sweet, savory, made with a pastry, bread or corn dough. They come in an array of names, shapes, sizes and are filled with a variety of ingredients, depending on the country. But, all have one thing in common, they are always bursting with a bountiful of delectable goodness inside. Little bites of heaven.
It was difficult to narrow down the myriad of empanada options from continent, to country and in some cases by region in a given country. As such additional empanada recipes are in your future, so hope you find them as heavenly as I do.
Shrimp Empanadas filling: bay shrimp, red onions, cilantro, tomatoes, salsa verde (green salsa), serrano peppers, Queso Fresco and olive oil
For this recipe, i narrowed the numerous options, by dough. And again, the options for dough are infinite, from wheat flour, corn flour, corn meal, potato, cassava, plantains and the list goes on. I specifically wanted to make a corn flour dough, which is often the flour used in both Colombia and Venezuela.
I used a brand of corn flour called “P.A.N,” which is a Venezuelan brand corn flour or you can use “Maseca,” a Mexican brand corn flour. “P.A.N,” can be found at most Hispanic markets and “Maseca” can be found in almost all local supermarkets. You can also use “Bobs Red Mill” corn flour. “P.A.N” and “Bob” is recommended, due in part to the texture of the flour, but “Meseca” is readily available.
An alternative to making the dough is purchasing the dough ready-made, which is located in the freezer section of your local Hispanic market. If you buy the dough ready-made, first defrost the dough discs and proceed with the rest of this recipe – no rolling or pressing of the dough necessary, just add filling.
However, if you would like to make the dough from scratch, I will provide the recipe here. Just note, you can roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper or cling wrap and use a round cookie cutter. A tortilla press is another option, which i used.
One of the many “to go” shops in Argentina selling Empanadas – shortly after I took this photo, I gorged on every variety offered at this Empanada shop
The filling started with bay shrimp and evolved from there. I had salsa verde leftover from my Shakshuka recipe. You can use this recipe to make the salsa verde or buy it ready-made from the supermarket (It goes by various names: tomatillo salsa, salsa verde, green salsa).
The topping which is an “avocado crema.” I used a ripe avocado, put it in a blender, added salsa verde, a squeeze of lime, pinch of salt and blended (until the consistency of whipped cream).
Finally, I topped the shrimp empanadas with the avocado crema, cilantro, tomatoes and queso fresco (“fresh cheese”). You can use any cheese you prefer, however the lighter in flavor the better, as not to overpower the the filling.
The best part of this recipe is you can make a batch and freeze them. So whenever you are feeling like an empanada, pull it out of the freezer and deep fry, pan fry or bake it.
- Corn Dough
- 2½ cup corn flour (P.A.N flour if you us Maseca Masa follow instructions on back of package)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons oil
- Avocado Crema
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 lime
- salt to taste
- ½ cup salsa verde see Shakshuka recipe for salsa verde
- 1 cup of bay shrimp
- ⅓ cup red onion, chopped
- ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, chopped (less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
- ¼ cup queso fresco ( or any cojita cheese or feta cheese)
- ⅓ cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste
- Corn Dough
- In a bowl, mix together the corn flour and salt. Add water and oil. Mix until dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, set aside.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Avocado Crema
- Peel avocado and put in the base of the blender. Add salsa verde, squeeze of lime. Blend until a whipped cream consistency. Add more salsa verde if too thick. Add salt to taste and additional lime, if necessary.
- Between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper roll the dough with a rolling pin, roll into a large circle. Using a cookie cutter (any size, depends on how large or small you want your empanadas). If the dough cracks at anytime, just add a little water, just means it is not moist enough. Alternatively, if you are using a tortilla press, roll about 2 tablespoons of dough (about 35g if weighing on a scale) into a ball. Repeat until all dough is used. Press each ball with the tortilla press.
- Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling on each circle (see photo above). Close by creating a half moon shape. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges tightly. Gently move the finished empanada to a cutting board and repeat until all dough is used.
- In a pan, add about 3 inches of canola or vegetable oil. Heat until a thermometer reaches 350F. If you don't have a thermometer, add some excess dough and if it sizzles, it's ready for the empanadas. Add 2 to 3 empanadas at a time (depends on the size of your pan and empanadas). Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the empanadas are golden brown and crispy. Drain empanadas on a paper towel and repeat until all of the empanadas are fried. Serve immediately with Avocado Crema.
2. Purchase ready-made salsa verde from your local supermarket.
3. Empanadas can be frozen for up to a month. Cook as indicated in the recipe, no defrosting necessary.
4. If you don't want to fry the empanadas, bake at 350F until golden brown, about 15 mins.
**I found P.A.N to crack easily, as a result, i made individual balls and rolled them out one at a time and filled each disc with filling (It takes longer, but the success rate is higher).
If the dough dries out, just add water and start again. Also, if you roll and fill, one at a time, keep the completed empanadas in the fridge, so they don't dry out.