Yucca empanadas stuffed with vegetables
By Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino
Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is making a big name for himself by promoting the ingredients and cuisine of the Amazon region in Peru. In addition to his two Lima-based restaurants – Malabar and amaZ – he is also consultant chef to the two expedition cruise ships on the Amazon – Aqua and Aria.
Many of Chef Schiaffino’s recipes use Amazonian ingredients which could be difficult or impossible to get outside the region. However, this take on a classic ‘empanada’ should present few such difficulties and is one of the recipes from the Aqua Expeditions cook book.
For the Empanadas:
1 pound yucca (cassava)
¼ pound fresh buffalo mozarella, chopped
Vegetable oil for frying
For the Vegetable Stuffing:
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon turmeric, grated
1 pinch fresh cumin
¾ sweet chili concasse
⅔ red onion, chopped
½ cup spring onions (scallions), chopped
⅓ cup celery, chopped
⅔ cup tomato, chopped
⅓ cup raisins, chopped
½ cup Brazil nuts, chopped
Wild oregano, chopped
Sacha culantro (or substitute with coriander) chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, turmeric, and cumin. Fry gently, stirring occasionally until the garlic starts to get brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and cook over a low heat until vegetables are soft. Add the most delicate vegetables at the end to avoid overcooking. Add raisins and Brazil nuts and cook 4 additional minutes. Remove vegetables and put in a bowl. Let them cool. Once vegetables are cool, sprinkle with chopped herbs and season to taste. Mix in the cheese and refrigerate.
Place yucca in a pot filled with cold water. Simmer, add salt, lower heat, and cook slowly until tender and fully cooked. Drain. While still warm, force through a potato ricer. Let chill, and mix until it forms a homogenous dough. Cover with a cloth to keep mixture from drying.
To assemble, divide the yucca dough into 4 equal parts and form into balls. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough and fill with the vegetable and cheese mix. Heat the vegetable oil and fry the empanadas until golden brown. Serve with a spicy Amazon salsa and cocona cream.