Filipino empanadas, another snack food I fell in love with when visiting The Philippines last year. I shared a recipe for lumpia a little while back, another favourite from our food tour of Manila’s Chinatown. Filipino empanadas were tried on that same tour.
As with the lumpia, I researched to find an empanada recipe that was close to what was tried. And like the lumpia recipe, I ended up taking bits from one recipe and bits from another. Trial and error until I finally came up with something close to what we tried.
These empanada have a slight sweetness as Filipinos do love that la little added sweetness in their food, including savoury. The filling of these Filipino empanadas is fantastic, but I am extremely impressed with the pastry.
Most of the recipes I can across used butter or oil in their pastry. Due to the fine little fried air bubbles that were on the surface of the empanada I tried in Manila, I had a very strong feeling they used lard. After playing around with pastry recipes, I am pretty sure I was right.
I say “secret ingredient” in the title above, but “forgotten” would be more accurate. It’s no secret lard does wonders in pastry recipes. It makes for a flaky and light pastry. Due to not being a healthy fat it has lost favour with home cooks. I know I rarely use it.
Don’t be put off by the smell of lard, it’s not that appealing (to me anyway). But it is worth using for the final result. It also looses all trace of smell and taste on cooking.
That’s the beauty of using lard. Unless you have made pastry with it, you are none the wiser as to why the pastry is so good.
I’m not going to say you can use butter if you would prefer. Because if you are gong to the trouble of making these Filipino empanadas, use lard for a fantastic result. Plus I want to challenge you a little.
Yield 18 pieces
Filipino empanadas, full of flavour with flaky light pastry using a secret ingredient. Perfect Filipino snack food and you can freeze the leftovers for another day.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 500g pork mince (lean)
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 small potato, finely diced
- 1/4 cup sultanas
- ½ cup frozen baby peas
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ cup water
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (50g) lard, cold & chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- vegetable oil for frying
To make the filling
- In a large non stick pan, over a medium heat, heat oil and sautee onions and garlic until soft.
- Add pork mince and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown.
- Stir in carrot and potato and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
- Add peas, sultanas, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, white pepper and water. Stir well.
- Continue to cook the mixture over a low heat, stirring so the mixture does not burn, until liquid has evaporated.
- Cover and place empanada filling to the side to cool while making the pastry. If it is a hot day, I suggest you put the filling in the fridge once it has cooled slightly.
To make the pastry
- Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, whisk together.
- Add lard to the flour mixture. With the tips of your fingers rub (see notes) the lard into the flour mixture.
- Whisk water, egg and vinegar together and add to flour mixture.
- Mix until combined and then turn out on to a lightly floured bench.
- Knead until mixture forms a smooth dough. Adding a little more flour if too sticky to handle.
- Shape into a flatish ball and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
To assemble & cook empanadas
- Divide dough into 18 round balls, and cover with some plastic wrap to avoid them drying out while assembling.
- On a floured bench, roll out a dough ball with a rolling pin, until around ½ centimetre thick.
- Place 2 tablespoons of empanada filling in the centre of the rolled out dough.
- Fold the dough in half over the filling, then seal the empanada but pleating* the edges and crimping as you go.
- You can see how I do it on Instagram here.
- Continue with the remainder of the dough and filling. Keeping the empanadas covered as you go so they don’t dry out.
- Place enough vegetable oil in a wok, which would be high enough to cover the empanadas. Heat oil until it reaches 180°C (350°F). Cook a few empanada at a time (don’t crowd the wok) until they are golden brown.
- Once golden remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper towel.
- Serve immediately.
Rubbing technique: Take pieces of lard between your finger tips and then rub the lard together with the flour. Lift the mixture up as you rub it to keep it as cool as possible. Do not use the palms of your hands, as you don’t want the lard to melt. Shake the bowl now and again to bring the larger lumps of lard to the surface. Continue until all the large lumps have been incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Sealing empanadas: If you don’t want to fold and crimp them you can just use the prongs of a fork to seal the empanadas. Push the fork prongs down on the edges of the empanada to seal.
Empanada can be frozen once they have been cooked and cooled. Warm them up in the over from frozen.
As mentioned in the notes in the recipe, the cooked empanadas can be frozen. Makes sure they have completely cooled before freezing. I simply put some in a zip lock bag and froze them. To re-heat them again, it was a case of straight from the freezer to a lined tray and the oven (medium heat). Until heated all the way through and crisp again.
You can also check out my folding technique on Instagram, for a bit of guidance.
If you make and enjoy this recipe, or any of our others, tag us in the photo on social media. Would love to see what you have made!
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