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Cape Verdean Fish Pasties: Pastels

What's the big idea?

Given that Cape Verde is a nation comprising of ten volcanic islands, 350 miles from the mainland of West Africa, it's probably no surprise that the country's cuisine features a lot of seafood. Pastels are a bit like a pasty, a bit like empanadas, but filled with fish. The islanders seem to use whatever fresh fish is available, and if no fresh fish can be found, then tinned tuna is apparently equally acceptable!

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

For the pastry

  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Good pinch of pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 230ml warm milk
For the filling
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, pepper
  • 4 white fish fillets of your choice (e.g. cod, sea bream, halibut), diced
  • Oil for frying

What To Do

  • Place the flour, yeast, salt, pepper and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the egg and oil
  • Use a hand mixer to slowly bring the dough together, gradually adding the milk until a smooth light dough is formed
  • Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour and a quarter
  • Meanwhile, fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil for five minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients (except for the oil) and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until most of the liquid is gone
  • Dust your work surface with flour
  • Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch (6mm)
  • Using a large biscuit cutter, cut out circles from the dough
  • Place a spoonful of the filling (the exact amount will depend on the size of the dough circles) in the centre of each circle
  • Fold each dough circle in half to form a crescent, and pinch the edges together to seal
  • Deep fry until golden brown
  • Drain well on kitchen towel, and serve hot

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