The coastal city of Puerto Vallarta is situated on the border with the state of Nayarit, and the two states share many dishes that are savoured on the popular beaches. Along with pescado zarandeado, (grilled, seasoned fish) and pescado embarazado, (marinated fish pieces on skewers), empanadas de Camaron are among the must-eat seafood dishes when in Puerto Vallarta. These crisp, golden pastries are filled with a spicy, more-ish mixture of prawns, tomatoes and onion.
- 500 g (5 cups) masa (maize) flour (see Note)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra, to shallow-fry
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 whole serrano chillies (see Note) or 1 jalapeño or long green chilli, finely chopped
- 500 g peeled, cooked prawns, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- guacamole, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Sift flour in a bowl, make a well in centre, then slowly add 750 ml water, stirring to combine. Using your hands, work mixture for 2 minutes or until just coming together; you should be able to create a ball without any mixture sticking to your hands. If too sticky, add a little more flour.
Divide mixture into 8 balls, then roll each between two sheets of baking paper into an oval shape about 2 mm thick. If they stick to the baking paper, add a little more flour.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chillies, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened. Add prawns and tomatoes, and cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until prawns are opaque. Remove from heat.
Place a tablespoonful of prawn mixture at one end of pastry round. Fold in half to enclose the filling, pinching or pleating the edge to seal tightly. Repeat with remaining 7 pastry rounds and prawn mixture.
Fill a large frying pan 2 cm deep with oil and place over medium–high heat. Working in batches, fry empanadas for 1 minute each side or until golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve immediately with guacamole on the side.
• Masa (maize) flour is a fine flour made from corn. It is from select delis and South and Central American food shops.
• Serrano chillies are long, green Mexican chillies. They are from select greengrocers and also dried from Mexican food shops.
Photography by Mark Roper.