An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Latin America, Southern Europe, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. The stuffing can consist of a variety of meats, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables or fruits among others.
Empanadas trace their origins to Galicia and Portugal. They first appeared in medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food.In turn, it is believed that empanadas and the similar calzones are both derived from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas.
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In Galicia and Portugal, an empanada is prepared similarly to a large pie which is then cut in pieces, making it a portable and hearty meal for working people. The filling of Galician and Portuguese empanada usually includes either tuna, sardines, or chorizo, but can instead contain cod or pork loin. The meat or fish is commonly in a tomato, garlic, and onion sauce inside the bread or pastry casing. Due to the large number of Galician immigrants in Latin America, the empanada gallega has also become popular in that region.
In Sardinia, the salad cake is named Sa Panada (meaning “meat ball cake”), or Impadas.
The dish was carried to Latin America and the Philippines by Spanish colonisers, and to Indonesia by the Portuguese, where they remain very popular to this day. Empanadas in Latin America, the Philippines, and Indonesia have various fillings.