The Sweet Addition To Empanadas In The Philippines

When a food is both tasty and enjoyable to eat, it often gets adapted to cuisines around the world, and such is the case with the empanada. While the handheld meat pie dates back to 16th century Spain, it has been enjoyed for centuries in Argentina and the Philippines, which have incorporated their unique flavors into the empanadas, according to MasterClass. No matter which country you find yourself eating an empanada, it is by definition, dough wrapped around a meat or vegetable filling. After being shaped into a half-moon, the empanada is baked or fried before being served. Per MasterClass, the easy-to-eat empanada is often consumed as an appetizer or a quick lunch, as well as a snack from a street vendor.

As the enjoyment of the empanada grew beyond the borders of Spain, so did the variety of ingredients it contained. In Latin America, variations abound. For instance, in Argentina, the empanada is generally filled with seasoned ground beef and vegetables, as well as a dough similar to pastry made with beef fat or butter (via Serious Eats). Other countries like Venezuela and Columbia make their empanadas with corn flour. The same Spanish explorers who brought the empanada to Latin America also introduced it to the Philippines, where it is much-loved, but is often served with a touch of sweetness, reports Manilla Spoon.

A sweet addition

Biting into an empanada in the Philippines often means tasting something a little sweet: raisins that have been combined with the meat, per MasterClass. Manilla Spoon adds a 1/2 cup of raisins to a combination of ground pork and ground beef for her empanadas. Her recipe also includes onion, garlic, plum tomatoes, and carrot. For Hungry Huy, who does not like raisins, he leaves them out of his Filipino empanadas but does use some brown sugar, as well as canned tomato sauce in the filling to maintain that slightly sweet flavor that is popular in the island nation. 

When raisins are included in the filling for empanadas, they are first softened by simmering in liquid and other ingredients. A recipe from Southern Living calls for 2 tablespoons of raisins to be mixed into ½ pound of ground beef, along with tomato paste, chicken stock, onion, garlic, and seasonings. Although an empanada recipe from Epicurious features some signature Spanish flavors, such as chorizo and Spanish smoked paprika, it also includes raisins that have been simmered in white wine and chicken broth. Manilla Spoon does not use wine or chicken broth in her recipe, but does add a more typical Asian flavor with the addition of soy sauce.  

Whether you eat an empanada for lunch or a snack, what's not to love about a pocket of pastry stuffed with savory meat, vegetables, and perhaps some raisins?