These empanadas are popular among beach goers along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Empanada vendors carry a basket covered with a tablecloth protecting the empanadas from the sand, and will offer you shrimp, fish or crab empanadas. Some people, like my family, will go to the beach with an ice chest full of drinks, and just wait for the vendors to pass by their palapa. There are many types of vendors offering all kinds of foods and snacks, but we love to go for the empanadas. Even though they’re also sold at local seafood restaurants, the feeling of being at the seashore feeling the warm breeze, listening to the sound of the sea, and enjoying some crab empanadas with a cold beer, is simply priceless.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, it’s one of my favorite things to eat when I go to my hometown. Check the notes below for other filling recommendations.
MAKES 16 EMPANADAS
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped white onion
- 1 Lb. crabmeat
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 Serrano pepper, chopped
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 ¼ cup All-purpose flour ( 300 grams)
- 5 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (60 grams)
- 1 cup of beer (any beer will do, or use 1 cup water, plus 1 ½ tsps. baking powder)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying the empanadas
- In my hometown we usually add beer to the dough to form the batter, but you can use water and baking powder as indicated above.
- I use almost the same process to make the dough as when I’m making flour tortillas, the only difference is using beer instead of plain water. You can use this same dough to make empanadas with other types of fillings, like potato, ground beef picadillo, cheese and ham, chicken, or anything you can imagine!
1. Heat the oil in a medium size frying pan and add the chopped onion. Cook for a couple of minutes and stir in the garlic and crabmeat. Keep cooking for 2 more minutes and add the Serrano pepper and chopped tomato. Stir and place the lid on, and reduce heat to allow the tomato juices to release.
2. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and allow them to cool down. The stuffing has to be cool when you use it to fill the empanadas.
TO PREPARE THE DOUGH:
3. Place flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Next, add the shortening and, with the help of a fork, incorporate it with the flour until it resembles coarse oatmeal. Now, slowly pour the beer and stir to form the dough.
4. Place the dough on a floured work surface. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is soft and smooth.
5. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. This resting time will release the gluten that will help you roll the dough easily.
6. After the resting time, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces. They should be about the size of a golf ball, and will correspond to one empanada each. Cover them with the plastic wrap while you roll one at a time to form the empanadas.
7. Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and start rolling each piece of dough to form a 5-inch diameter circle. If you have a hard time forming a round shape, use a small bowl and place it upside down over the already-rolled dough, then gently press it down to cut the dough into a circle.
8. Once you’ve formed the circle, place 3 tablespoons of crab filling on one side of the circle and fold the empanada, making sure the edge of the top part will be about a centimeter behind the bottom edge. (See picture above)
9. Using a kitchen brush, very lightly moisten the edge with water. Now, pinch and fold the edges in half-inch sections towards the center, using your thumb and your middle and index fingers, overlapping each fold until you finish at the other end of the empanada.
10. Place the empanada over a clean kitchen towel and cover with plastic wrap, then proceed to form the rest of the empanadas.
11. Once all the empanadas are ready to be fried, heat the oil in a large frying pan at medium high heat. Fry the empanadas, turning once, about 4 minutes per side until they are deep golden. Do not overcrowd your frying pan; for a 12-inch pan, fry 3 or 4 at a time, giving them enough room to turn them when ready. Remember, the oil is very hot, so be careful. Once ready, place them over the paper towel to drain or over a baking rack. You can eat them cold or warm. If you want to keep them warm, place them in a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees until you finishing cooking the rest of the empanadas.
Provecho and have fun cooking!