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Sandra Gutierrez is an expert on the subject of Latin American cuisine, its history and evolution. Sandra is the former food editor for The Cary News and her articles and recipes have been featured in Relish, Cooking Club of AmericaCooking Pleasures, TASTE-FULL, Easy, USA Today, NBC Latino, MamiverseDucklings, FOX Latino, Edible Piedmont, and in newspapers across the country. She is the author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & The American South and Latin American Street Food: The Best Flavors of Markets, Beaches, and Roadside Stands from Mexico to Argentina.

Recognized as a leading expert on Latin cuisine, Sandra was a presenter on the subject of Latin American food at the conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2012 and was a cookbook judge for the 2013 James Beard Awards. As a bilingual chef, Sandra is a Chef Ambassador for American Roland Foods. She teaches classes at Williams-Sonoma, which have sold out, and hosts her own blog at http://www.Sandraskitchen.typepad.com.

Found from New York to Los Angeles, from Mexico to Brazil and into the Latin Caribbean, empanadas are the most widely eaten hand-held pies in the world. They can be filled with a marvelous array of ingredients featuring simple, vibrant flavors and can make a perfect snack, everyday meal, decadent dessert, or great party fare. EMPANADAS offers a collection of the most delicious recipes and essential tips on creating the perfect mini pie for any occasion, from Argentinian cheesy spinach empanadas, crispy Mexican chorizo and potato pies with tomatillo salsa, and flaky Brazilian shrimp and tomato empanadas to Costa Rican empanaditas stuffed with gooey pineapple jam. With an introduction on the history of empanadas, a lesson on dough types and folding techniques, 60 succulent recipes, and mouthwatering color photographs throughout, EMPANADAS is a beautiful, practical, and definitive guide to making, serving, and enjoying everyone’s favorite hand-held pie.

Shrimp and Tomato Stew Flaky Pillows

Pastéis de Camarão – Brazil

Makes 12 pastéis


These empanadas are plump with shrimp—juicy and messy to eat. In Brazil, they’re called pastéis de camarão. Theshrimp are coated with a sauce called molho or “wet sauce,” rich in tomato goodness. In Bahia, they’re served wrapped in paper to catch the juices. I make several batches ahead of time and freeze them, uncooked, so that I can fry them whenever the craving hits me. Paired with a green salad and a glass of wine, they make a delicious and easy supper in no time. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making your own dough, use packaged annatto-flavored empanada discs for frying (as pictured, opposite), or large egg roll wrappers. Shape them into half-moons or rolls (respectively), instead of making rectangles. If you’re lucky enough to find crawfish or langoustines, use them in place of shrimp.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (120 g) finely chopped white onions
2⁄3 cup (120 g) peeled, seeded, and chopped plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1⁄4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
12 ounces (340 g) peeled and cooked shrimp or langoustines, cut into 1⁄2-inch (12-mm) pieces
1 recipe Pastéis Dough (recipe below), or 12 store-bought annatto-flavored empanada discs
Vegetable oil for frying

Make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste; sauté for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) water and stir well to form a thick paste. Add the cilantro and salt; remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the shrimp or langoustines and stir well. Transfer the filling to a large bowl; cover and chill it for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Assemble the pastéis: While the filling chills, make the dough as directed below and let it rest, covered with plastic, for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set it aside. Divide the dough in half. Roll out the first half to 1⁄16 inch (2 mm) thick (like for pasta). Using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife, cut it into 5-by-6-inch (12-by-15-cm) rectangles. Re-roll the scraps together, wrap them in the plastic, and allow them to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, repeat with the other half of the dough, cutting and re-rolling the scraps (while allowing the dough to rest in between) until you have 12 rectangles. You may have to do this a third time, until all are cut. The bottom side of the rectangles will be sticky; the top should be dry.

With a shorter side toward you and the sticky side facing up, place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the bottom half of each rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch (12 mm) all around. Fold the top over the filling and seal all of the sides well by pressing them together with your fingers. Crimp them tightly with the tines of a fork. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.

Fry the pastéis and serve: Fit a large baking sheet with a metal cooling rack; set it aside. In a large skillet with high sides, heat 1/2 to 1 inch (about 2 cm) of vegetable oil to 360°F (180°C) or use a deep-fryer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Working in batches, carefully slide the pastéis into the oil. Fry them until they’re puffy and golden, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, turning them over halfway through. If the oil gets too hot as you fry and they’re browning too quickly, lower the temperature and let the oil cool slightly before frying any more. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on the prepared rack to drain. Let them cool for 1 to 2 minutes and serve.

Note: Pastéis are best fried immediately after shaping and eaten immediately after they’re fried. Freeze them uncooked in a single layer; once solid, transfer them to freezer bags and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. Fry them without thawing (to prevent splatters) for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy.

Pastéis Dough

Fried – Brazil

Makes 12 pastéis

Brazilian fried empanadas made with this lard-based dough are called pastéis (pronounced pahs-teys). The dough is supple and fries up blistery, crispy, and with a light and flaky texture, very much like that of egg roll dough. The dough itself can be made easily in a bowl, but you’ll need a little bit of time and patience to roll out the dough and to cut it into squares. In order to get crackly, blistery dough when fried, it must first be rolled out very thinly. The dough needs to rest before you roll it, so that the gluten in the flour can relax and allow it to stretch thinly; otherwise your squares will shrink into small, fat rectangles. If at first you find it hard to roll out the dough thinly, don’t worry; the pastéis will still be delicious. Once the dough is cut, you can layer it between sheets of parchment paper on a baking sheet and let it rest for 20 minutes (or refrigerate it for up to 2 hours) before filling and frying the pastéis. Always place the filling on the sticky side of the pastry (one side will be drier than the other) so that the edges will stick together and seal tightly. In a pinch, you can substitute this dough with egg roll wrappers, but you’ll need to moisten their edges with egg wash in order to make them stick.

2 1⁄2 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄3 cup (75 ml) melted lard or vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2⁄3 cup (165 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the lard or shortening and vinegar. Begin to mix the wet ingredients into the flour with a spoon as you add the water in a stream. When all the water has been added, switch to your hands and knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth, about 1 minute. Roll it out into a rectangle about 2 inches (5 cm) thick (this will make it easier to roll out fully) and wrap it in plastic; let it rest for 20 minutes.

Note: This dough cannot be frozen and is best used after resting for 20 minutes; once shaped, the empanadas can be frozen raw (see individual recipes for instructions).

These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from EMPANADAS by Sandra Gutierrez. (Abrams Books; April 2015; $19.95/hardcover; ISBN; 978-1617691430).   www.abramsbooks.com

Contact: Juliana Horbachevsky