the final empanada entry

We’d been missing empanadas for a while – the last ones we had were the salteñas in Bolivia which, while tasty, were not the empanadas that we had been gorging ourselves on for the last year and a half. We were eager to try Ecuadorian empanadas, having heard that there were new varieties. I don’t know if we arrived at the wrong time or what, but they were not as…available as I had hoped. We were constantly disappointed in trying to get ahold of them.

Our first empanadas tried (not pictured) were sweet ones in Loja in the south. Filled with manjar blanco (Peru/Ecuador’s sub-standard version of dulce de leche – sorry, it’s just not as good!), they were a dessert empanada. Nothing to write home about.

The empanadas chileñas  (shown here) that we tried at the Ecuatorial Monument were the empanadas that we were raised with in Argentina, if not a left on the shelf a little too long and cooked a little too much. I believe we got beef and chicken. Dry and not terribly spiced in any particular direction, they tasted like cheap, corner-store empanadas. Still, they fulfilled the longing, if only just a bit.

We also tried an empanada de morocho. I have no idea how it translates, but it was barebones beef and rice inside an empanada that had been made from corn flour. This made the dough very crunchy. Really, it was like eating an empanada made from corn chips. Again, not great, but I think there was potential there. We’ll see about experimentation in the future.

One empanada that we never got to try in Ecuador that we saw on every menu but not one restaurant seemed to stock was the empanada de verde. This one is made from plantain, I believe. Since I love plantains (one of my favourite things about the meals here are the cooked plantains on the side. I usually steal Christine’s), I was really looking forward to them and really disappointed by the complete and utter lack of them. Boo Ecuador! Give me more empanadas!

Into Colombia, the first thing I wanted to try was their empanadas. We had sampled them in Argentina but I was eager to taste the real thing. They were made with corn flour, but they weren’t crunchy like the empanadas de morocho. They were almost soft and chewy, but not in a flour dough kind of way. The insides were most commonly beef (unspiced), but man, these empanadas were stuffed! Full of filling, they were the easy the most-stuffed empanadas I’ve ever had. It must be the corn flour, because with wheat-flour empanadas, no matter how much you stuff them, there’s reduction. While they may not have been the tastiest empanadas we found, they were probably the most filling. We didn’t eat them all that often, but they were enjoyable.

So that’s it for empanadas. We didn’t get to try empanadas chileñas, which was disappointing, as every place that we tried what was listed as them on the menus, they came stuffed with everything – raisins, olives, onions, all sorts of good stuff. None of this one-by-one thing. The winner of our sampling, however, was Argentina by far. The most varieties, the best dough, the care put into them. Empanadas argentinas will be the recipe we take with us and spread wherever we are. Thanks to all the countries that participated, all entries were appreciated. Stay tuned for empanada experiments in the future!

5 responses to “the final empanada entry

  1. Morocho is hominy, white corn. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominy

    I’m sorry the one’s you tried weren’t so good. Unfortunately, Ecuadorian emapanadas have been in crisis since the arrival of Chilean immigrants and their introduction of their empanadas about 10-12 years ago. We have poor self-esteem.

    The best place for empanadas de morocho is Ambato, no other place will be great. Also, the best empanadas de verde are from Manabi.

    • Thank you for clearing some of that up. I’m looking forward to trying them again, armed with more information, when we make a return trip to Ecuador.

  2. Amazing chronicle! Thank you for putting all this information about empanadas together🙂

  3. I disagree with the assessment of manjar blanco. It is not a substandard version of dulce the leche; dulce de leche may be darker (manjar prieto) or whiter (manjar blanco), and depending on the recipe it could be passable, good or glorious. Some of the old recipes that are mostly prepared at home because they take a long time to make are just wonderful. I haven’t tried better dulce de leche anywhere else in Latin America.

    Also, the smaller the empanadas de morocho are, the better. If you ever go again to Quito, try La Choza restaurant. It is a bit expensive, but you can ask for a mixed order of small empanadas (de morocho, de verde and de yuca). They are wonderful!

    • Thank you for the information on manjar blanco. Maybe I need to try some homemade stuff! I will keep it in mind for the next time I visit, as well as your restaurant recommendation.

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