**Post Factum:**This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used random.org's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme.
Before I do anything else, I must apologize to the nation of Bolivia and salteña purists everywhere, as I'm afraid mine really don't cut the mustard. They're supposed to be juicy for a start, but I'll talk more about that later. All I can say is, be gentle; this was my first go at them and they do taste good, just a bit dry.
Salteñas are the Bolivian take on empanadas, versions of which are prevalent throughout Central and South America. I know when I think of South American foods, empanadas are one of the first things that spring to mind. Empanadas as a recipe were brought to the Americas by way of the Spanish conquistadores, hence their ubiquitous nature throughout Central and South America. In Spain, they are generally known as empanadillas.
Even within Bolivia these pastries vary from region to region. Some of the most acclaimed varieties being from Cochabama, Potosi, La Paz, and Sucre. From what I can gather, the versions from La Paz and Sucre are very similar...if anyone knows for sure, please correct me if I'm wrong. The ones I've made here are the La Paz/Sucre version. They are spicy and subtly sweet at the same time, usually baked instead of fried.
The filling (typically meat) is meant to be very juicy, with raisins, olives, and boiled egg layered over the top. I used tempeh to replace the unmentionable, and that's where the lack of juiciness comes in. Typical recipes call for adding quite a lot of broth and gelatin to the mixture, allowing it to chill overnight before filling the pastry. When the pastry is filled, the filling has set up from the gelatin, and as they bake, the filling returns to it's juicy state. This is why they are meant to be eaten hot, right out of the oven before the gelatin as a chance to set up again.
For those of you following along at home, here is a list of the ingredients from the original recipe. (Please find the full recipe here.)
Salteñas Pacenas filling from Alura Gonzales:
1 lb. potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup peas
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon aji (hot ground red pepper)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I used much more...like a tablespoon)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
4 cups veggie consomme (hot)
1 cup cooking liquid from chickpeas; it gells up when it cools.
See what I mean about all that broth and the gelatin? Now, I suppose I should have gone all out and used some vegan substitute for gelatin, but I'll leave that as a challenge for another day. In this instance, I followed the recipe as-is, substituted all the unmentionable stuff with some poached tempeh and called it a day. Which, to make a long story short, is why they came out dry. But in my defense, they were still tasty.
The dough also has a story. Part of the reason I chose this particular recipe was because the dough did not call for eggs, while many other versions did. I have to say, it was a bit of an odd pastry dough--more like a roll out cookie dough than anything else. And as such, came out quite crispy...and dry. But again, subtly sweet, rich, and tasty.
filling, raisins, and olives all ready for their salteña home
(you're supposed to use black olives, but I wanted green ones instead)
pastry rounds ready for folding
(3 raisins and 1 olive per pastry)
folded pastry (they remind me of those cute dinosaurs)
After all the heavy food lately, I felt it was time for a salad. I found this nice salad idea on a Bolivian recipe website. It's meant to be dressed with mayonaise and oil, but I thought a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper sufficed.
raw shredded beet and carrot, diced red pepper, red onions, and tomato
Here is some further info if anyone is interested:
I read that vegetarian versions of salteñas are not too difficult to find in cities, but I could not find any further descriptions of what was typically in them. Here is a link to veggie friendly places in Bolivia and some other Central and South American countries: http://esperanzadelibertad.org/veggiefood.htm
Food Customs of Bolivia: http://www.boliviabella.com/bolivian-food-customs.html
Tomorrow, last day in Bolivia.