Empanadas on a wooden tray with salsa and guacamole on the side
The Ingredient That Puts Venezuelan Empanadas Apart
Empanadas exist in some form or other throughout the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Venezuelan empanadas are unique for using a secret ingredient.
To make the outer crust, Venezuelan empanadas use a unique corn flour known as masarepa. The corn used in this flour is pre-cooked before it’s ground down.
Masarepa is made by soaking, pounding, and heating dried corn kernels. The kernels are ground into a finer corn flour with a starchier and lighter texture when fried.
Since the cornmeal is pre-cooked, it doesn’t need a leavening agent to form a dough. The crust is made with just masarepa, hot water, salt, corn oil, cornstarch, and spices.
To make the empanadas, you'd knead the dough until malleable and no longer sticky, then rest it for 10 minutes. Next, divide your dough into spheres and flatten them into discs.
Add a tablespoon of filling to the center of each circle, fold them over into crescent shapes, and pinch the edges to seal. Fry until golden brown, or cook them in an air fryer.
Venezuelan empanadas are also notable for their variety of fillings, from leftover stews of all kinds to beef, chicken, cheese, beans, tuna, and even shark meat.