• Tuna and green olive hand pies with fennel salsa (Benito Martin)

Hand pies are known by many names across South America. Argentinians call them empanadas, Puerto Ricans know them as pasteles, while Brazilians call them pastéis (or pastel when referring to only one). 






Skill level

No votes yet

This hand pie is inspired by the Brazilian version, which is fried, and cachaça (the local spirit distilled from sugarcane) is added to the pastry, giving it a wonderful flaky crispness. These little parcels are filled with tuna brightened with green olive and spinach, making them perfect for lunchtime or as party snacks.



  • 560 g plain flour
  • 3 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil)
  • 200 ml cachaça or white rum
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying



  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200 g English spinach (about 1 small bunch), leaves and stems roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 100 g pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 95 g Sirena Tuna - Peppercorn, drained well
  • finely zested rind from 1 lemon


Fennel salsa

  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves (about ½ bunch)
  • 1 cup packed coriander leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 cup packed roughly sliced spring onions (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 long green chilli, roughly chopped
  • 165 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Cook's notes

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.


Resting time: 30 minutes

  1. For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the oil to the well and mix in the flour, using your hands. Gradually add the spirit, using your hands to bring together to form a ball of dough. Turn out onto a work bench and knead lightly until just smooth. Divide into two equal portions, shape each into a rough rectangle, cover with the bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

  2. For the fennel salsa, place all of the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until roughly combined. Refrigerate until required for the flavours to meld.

  3. For the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes or until softened and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant but not coloured. Add the spinach, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, increase heat to medium cook for about 3 minutes or until collapsed and the water has completely evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

  4. Add the remaining filling ingredients, and use your hands to mix, breaking up the chunks of tuna, and ensuring the ingredients are evenly distributed. Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste.

  5. Roll each portion of the pastry out on a lightly floured bench to roughly a 20 cm (height) x 60 cm (length) rectangle, about 2 mm thick. Use a knife to trim the sides. Cut each at 10 cm intervals so you have a total of twelve 20 cm x 10 cm rectangles. Discard the trimmings.

  6. Make the hand pies Divide the filling into 12 portions. Place the filling on the top half of each rectangle, leaving a border and moulding into a rough rectangle. Lightly brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold over the bottom half of the pastry to enclose the filling, pressing around the filling to remove any air and pressing to seal the edges – carefully press or the pastry may crack; if it does, just gently pinch back together. Decorate by pressing the tines of a fork along the edges, if you like.

  7. Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided saucepan to 160°C. Add the pastéis (use a palette knife or spatula to lift them off the bench), in batches, and cook until the pastry is nicely golden and bubbled, about 3 minutes each side. Be careful as during cooking the oil will spit due to the moisture in the pastry.

  8. Cool and serve Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel. Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes then serve with fennel salsa for dipping.


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok. Creative concept by Belinda So.


Australians have been enjoying the unrivalled taste and quality of SIRENA tuna since 1956. Sirena tuna is made only with the highest quality ingredients, including our premium oil blends and high specification tuna. All of Sirena's tuna products are delicious, healthy, suitable for different moments of your day, and can be enjoyed on their own or as an ingredient in meals. For more recipes from our SBS collection of SIRENA tuna recipes, go here