Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Veronica Shine
Tucked away in Spain’s northwest, sticking out like a thumb over Portugal are the four provinces of Galicia: Pontevedra, La Coruña, Lugo, and Orense, the only inland province of the four. Here you will find a culture that is both unique and distinct from that of the rest of Spain. Galician, or gallego, is spoken alongside Spanish, and the region is known for its strong Celtic background, and unique music, which features bagpipes, or “gaita gallega.” Many Galicians have light features, and look quite distinct from the Moorish-influenced population of the south of Spain so many of us have traditionally associated with bullfights and Flamenco dance.
Galicians are a people of the sea and reap and enjoy its bounty. Not surprisingly, they have their own twist on empanadas. Empanadas are enjoyed throughout the “New World” as a tapas, hors d’oeuvres or street food. Empanada is translated as “stuffed pastry.”
What many may not realize is that the empanadas are the pinnacle to the Galicia region and actually originated there. The empanadas are also portrayed in Maestro Mateo’s sculptures in Santiago de Compostela from the 12th Century. Today you’ll find empanadas all over Iberia, as well as in Latin and South America, and even in Times Square, New York City. The love for this mouth-watering dish is a part of Galician culture. So much so that the “Festival of the Empanada” is held in Noia, Galicia every year during the month of August.
Other influences in food are based from Galicia, too.
Besides empanadas, Galicia is a powerhouse for seafood. Mussels, sometimes known as the poor man’s oyster, are used extensively in Spanish cuisine. Galicia just happens to produce almost half the mussels in the world. The black shells are extremely thin, and you will get twice the amount of food from a pound of mussels than you would receive with other mollusks.
It is only natural that the Galicians merge these two favorites with a different twist to make the “summer empanada” dish called “Empanadas con Mejillones Escabechados.” Empanadas have always been synonymous with Hispanic cuisine. And similar to other types of empanadas, Empanadas con Mejillones Escabechados is delicious to serve at a picnic tapas, an on-the-go treat or at the heart of a main sit-down meal.
Here is the recipe. It serves 4:
Premade dough (see separate recipe)
1½ cups of onion
1½ cups of mussels marinade (see separate recipe)
1½ cups of tomato sauce
1 cup of red pepper
2/3 cup of green pepper
2/3 cup zucchini
2/3 cup of eggplant
1 beaten egg yolk
1. Chop the onion, red pepper and green along with peeled zucchini and eggplant into cubes.
2. Fry the onion until golden and place the remaining vegetables. Sauté until all vegetables are cooked.
3. Add tomato sauce and drained mussels boil while seasoning to taste.
4. Remove from the heat and drain excess oil.
5. Divide pie dough into two parts. Roll out the dough. Cut the dough into 4 circles on each rolled out part.
6. Fill with mussel fillings then place another half of circled dough on top and seal the sides with your fingers.
7. Paint each pie with the beaten egg yolk and bake at 400°F for approximately 30-35 minutes.
Mussels and Marinade
1 lb. raw mussels in shells
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ of a large yellow or white onion
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
Salt to taste
Virgin olive oil
1. Scrub and clean the mussels with a stiff brush, removing any debris on outside.
2. Combine onion, garlic, 4 tablespoons parsley, bay leaf, thyme, wine, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot. Bring to boil and lower heat. Cook for additional 2 minutes.
3. Add mussels, and cover. Cook just until shells open, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook and remove mussels from their shell, and place aside.
4. Strain liquid in a bowl and add remaining olive oil and parsley.
5. Place in the mussels and marinate until ready to use.
1 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 oz unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1. Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the butter, egg and water until a clumpy dough forms.
3. Form the dough into 2 balls and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
4. Use immediately after chilled; or store in the refrigerator or freezer later use.