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How to make Venezuelan Empanadas

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Venezuelan Empanadas are fried corn flour patties stuffed with different fillings such as cheese, ham, beans, pulled steak, chicken or fish.

Families on the east coast of Venezuela started selling empanadas to tourists from their front porches shortly after they were introduced to the country in XVI. This practice made them a popular street vendor food across the country. Front-porch empanadas are still found today, and it is also very common for empanada-makers to send their children to sell empanadas at the beach or on the street. These young ambulant sellers can be heard from a mile away as they advertise their product off the top of their lungs:
“Eeeeempanadas!! Eeeeeempanadas!!”

Probably the most famous empanadas in Venezuela are found at Conejeros bazaar on Margarita Island. This busy flea market is buzzing with both locals and tourists looking to snatch a good deal and grab a bite of local fare. The empanaderas set up shop early in the morning and start the daily cook-off, each one certain that they have the best empanadas in town. Fish empanadas, made with a small shark called Cazon, is the top selling kind on the island.

This and other recipes on "Criollo: A Taste of Venezuela" cookbook, available on softcover and hardcover at [a]www.criollocookbook.com.[/a]


Recipe
2 cups of water, or as needed
2 cups corn flour, or as needed
1 tbsp wheat our
1 tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
Any filling such as cheese, ham, chicken salad, pulled steak, fish or black beans. Many of the dishes on the Criollo cookbook can be used as a filling for empanadas!

- Mix water, sugar and salt together and slowly add ours while mixing with your fingers. Adjust the amount of corn flour until you get should get a soft dough.
- Let rest for about 5 minutes then knead again. Divide in egg-sized balls.
- Heat up about 4 cups of vegetable oil in a pan or deep fryer on medium high until a wooden spoon bubbles in it. The oil should never smoke or else it will burn the empanadas.
- Flatten a ball of dough on a piece of plastic wrap. Make sure to wet your hands in water whenever handling the dough to prevent cracks.
- Put two spoonful of filling in the middle of the dough and use the plastic to fold it in half, giving the empanada its iconic half-moon shape.
- Seal edges by pressing down with your fingers, using either a bowl or a fork.
- Slide into hot oil and fry for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown
- Place on a strainer over paper towel and let cool for five minutes before serving.

Purchase "Criollo: A Taste of Venezuela" cookbook at www.criollocookbook.com

Check out Tutto Pasta's EmpanadaFest! This March 19th at 240 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON.

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