From dough to delight – Josh Niland’s golden and crispy empanadas recipe
It’s not an overstatement to say that Josh Niland is a culinary game-changer. He’s changed the way we eat seafood at his Sydney eateries Saint Peter, Peterman and Fish Butchery, and turned fish cookery on its head with an innovative gill-to-fin approach, documented in his series of bestselling seafood-centric cookbooks (Take One Fish: The New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking, The Whole Fish Cookbook: New ways to cook, eat and think). In his newest book, Fish Butchery, Josh continues to open our eyes to the potential of fish in the kitchen with expert techniques and innovative recipes. We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on one such tantalising recipe for swordfish-filled empanadas. Keep reading for the delicious details on how to perfect these golden and crispy pockets of goodness …
500 g butter
3 kg plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
60 g salt
1.25 L (5 cups) water
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
Cool to approximately 37°C.
Combine the dry ingredients and form a well in the centre.
Add the water and melted butter into the well and slowly incorporate into the dry ingredients.
Knead for up to 5 minutes until the pastry is smooth and elastic.
Place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4–5 hours to rest, so the flour can properly hydrate.
150 ml grapeseed oil
1.5 kg skinless, boneless swordfish mince
2 red capsicums, finely diced, seeds and core removed
2 brown onions, peeled and finely diced
150 g dried currants
1 L (4 cups) fish stock
2 teaspoons dried oregano
30 g sweet paprika
6 g ground cumin
chilli flakes, to taste
salt, to taste
In a large cast-iron frying pan, add 50 ml of the oil and allow it to come to smoking point over a high heat.
Add a third of the swordfish mince and, using a whisk, break the mince up. You want to fry the mince quickly with minimal liquid coming off so that it doesn’t boil in its own juice and dry out.
Remove each batch of browned mince from the pan into a colander set over a bowl.
Heat the pan again and cook the remaining two batches of the mince, adding another 50 ml of oil each time.
Set the browned mince aside.
Wipe the pan clean, set over a medium heat and add the remaining 50 ml of oil, then sweat off the capsicum and onion until softened, approximately 15 minutes, and add the remaining ingredients except the chilli and salt.
Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and allow to reduce by half.
Add the cooked swordfish mince back to the pan and remove from the heat.
Season to taste with chilli and salt, then allow to cool.
Roll the pastry out to 4 mm thick sheets using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface (but not too much flour as this will affect the final exterior appearance of the empanada).
Cut into circles using a 12 cm round pastry cutter.
Place a heaped tablespoon of the cooled filling into the centre of the pastry.
Use water to seal the edges shut, pushing out any air pockets first. Crimp the edges with your fingers or use a lightly floured fork to pinch the edges together.
Store in the freezer, ensuring the empanadas are well covered to avoid freezer burn on the pastry.
These empanadas are best cooked from frozen in a deep-fryer set to 180°C.
Fry until golden brown and the filling in the centre is hot.
Serve with garlic yoghurt or a good squeeze of lemon.
Makes 125 empanadas.
This is an edited extract from Fish Butchery by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant Books, RRP$70). Available in stores nationally.
Image credit: Rob Palmer.
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