In El Salvador, pastelitos are savory and empandas are sweet. I learned this when I went to a filipino party and the host offered me an empanada and I was excited to eat something sweet, only to find meat inside! I was so confused and this is where I learned that every country has their own version of empanadas and that in El Salvador they are very different than the rest.
Whenever my mom would like these pastelitos, they were always such a treat and above all they were made with love. The soft crispy shell on the outside and the delicious potatoes inside topped the curtido combine to take your mouth on a ride full of deliciousness. These are easier to prepare than it sounds and the labor of love will be worth it.
You can easily make variations of the empanadas such as adding different sautéed veggies into the potato mix, making potato and cheese mix or mixing ground beef, peas and carrots. The possibilities are endless and delicious! This version is vegetarian and vegan friendly for everyone to enjoy.
Here's what you'll need:
Ingredients for Masa:
2 cups of corn masa flour
1.75 cups of lukewarm water
1 TSP Chicken Bullion (Knorr)
1 TSP Achiote Powder
1 TSP avocado oil
Ingredients for Filling:
4 russet potatoes peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TSP garlic powder
1 TSP paprika
1 TSP salt
1 TSP pepper
Prepare the Filling:
Step 1: Peel and dice the russet potatoes. In a large pot filled with water, add the diced potatoes and a pinch of salt. NOTE: Make sure potatoes are covered with water.
Step 2: Set your stove to medium high heat and boil the potatoes until they are tender.NOTE: Diced potatoes will cook faster about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Once the potatoes are tender, strain the water and add potatoes back into the pot. Using a masher or fork, mash the potatoes and set aside.
Step 4: In a large skillet, over medium heat, add avocado oil. Once the oil is heated, add the diced onions and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Step 5: Once the onions are translucent, add the mashed potatoes, minced garlic, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, stir together and sauté for another 5 minutes, then set aside.
Make the Masa:
Step 6: In a large bowl, add 2 cups of corn masa (I use Maseca) along with the achiote and chicken bouillon and stir together.
Step 7: Slowly add the water into the corn masa until you get a play-doh consistency. If the masa is too wet, add more masa and if it’s too dry, add more water.
Assembling the Pastelitos:
Step 8: Using a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap, grab a golf-ball sized amount of masa and roll in between your hands into a ball. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the tortilla press and gently press down NOTE: The tortillas do not need to be too thin, if you press too hard the masa will get stuck!
Step 9: Add a spoonful of the mashed potatoes on one side of the tortilla and carefully fold one side of the pastelito to the other and pinch the edges together to seal the pastelito. Continue this process until all the ingredients are used.
Step 10: In a large deep pan, add about 1 cup of avocado oil over medium high heat. Let the oil get hot, then carefully add the pastelitos into the oil cook for about 3 minutes of each side or until they are a beautiful bright orange color. Continue this step until all pastelitos are fried.
Step 11: Serve with Salvadorian curtido and enjoy!