In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, an empanada is essentially a stuffed pastry.
The filling usually consists primarily of beef. It may also contain ham and cheese, humita corn with Béchamel sauce, or spinach. Fruit is used to create a dessert empanada. Dessert empandas are usually baked, but may be fried. In some Argentinean provinces, empanadas can be spiced with peppers, more akin to those of the rest of South America.
Chilean empanadas also use a wheat flour-based dough, but the meat filling is slightly different and often contains more onion. Chileans consider the Argentine filling seco, or dry. Fried empanadas of shrimp/prawns and cheese are a favourite dish of the coastal areas, like Viña del Mar.
In Colombia, common empanadas are filled with chopped meat, pieces of potato, and yellow rice, and are eaten with a spicy sauce made of cilantro and ají pepper, stuffed in a corn-based pastry and fried.
It is likely that empanadas are originally from Galicia, Spain, where they were prepared rather like Cornish pasties as a portable and hearty meal for working people and often filled with leftovers or staple ingredients. Tuna and chicken are varieties still seen in Galicia.
Empanadas are usually eaten with your hands (like a taco or burrito).
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