One of some hobbies that Ron, my husband, has is cooking. And I should say he is a good home cook. But what he normally cook is food for evening meals. Food for dinner. Some pasta or Dutch mashed potatoes with sausages or chili con carne or rendang (Indonesian beef curry) or fried rice or fried noodles. But he hardly showed interest in cooking or making snacks or baking cakes or bread.
Suddenly, out of the blue, he starts to show a lot more interest in cooking. It was around two months ago. Suddenly he wants to learn to make this and that. Gladly I provide him with recipes which I first translate into English, of course. Starting with panada (and it was a success!) he then went further in trying to make another Indonesian savory snack, pastel. This pastel making try out happened 3 weekends ago. Again with success!!
Pastel is Indonesian style empanada which is fried. The content is normally quite non-vegetarian since the original recipe uses shreded boiled chicken breast and hard boiled eggs which are cut into small cubes. But one can make totally vegetarian by omitting these two ingredients.
The rest of the ingredients for the content are carrot (cut into small cubes), green peas, soun (or glass vermicelli, soaked in boiled water for 3 minutes), chopped onion, crashed and chopped garlic, broth block (if you are vegetarian use the vegetable one), pepper and salt. The ingredients for the skin is all purpose flour, enough water, some sunflower oil and a pinch of salt.
The content can be made one day in advance to reduce the load of the work. Heat 3 tablespoon of sunflower oil in a pan or a wok then saute the onion and garlic until they turn the color and release good smell. Add the carrot and green peas and stir-fry them for 2 minutes and then add in the soun. If you use shreded boiled chicken breast, you need to add it at this stage. Add the broth stock (disolve with 3 tablespoon of water) and pepper. Stir all well. Taste the mixture. It may still need some salt. Then add in the hard boiled eggs if you use them. Stir all well and cook another 1 minute. Remove the pan or wok from fire. Keep aside to cool.
Meanwhile, start to make the skin dough.
Mix all ingredients except the water in a big bowl. Add water little by little while mixing until the flour mixture incorporates, is smooth and kneadable. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times. Do not overknead. The dough should not be too elastic. Shape it into a ball and place it back into the bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. Flour a surface and roll the dough until it reaches 5 mm thick.
By the way, the ingredients he used to make pastel skin dough are the same ingredients I always use to make samosa skin dough. It means, we do not use butter and egg(s). It makes the pastel skin taste much lighter.
So, after the skin dough is rolled to 5 mm thick it’s ready to be formed in round shape. You can use wide edge glass or bowl whose diameter is around 10 cm. put 1 tablespoon of content and fold into half and press the edge with the tip of your finger or a fork. Set it aside on a baking tray covered with cling film. Work further with the rest of the skin dough and the content.
Once you are done heat plenty of sunflower oil in a pan with medium heat. Deep-fry 3-4 pieces of pastel at once (it depends on how big the pan you are using). Fry the pastels around 30 seconds and then turn them up side down. This prevents the pastels from swelling in the middle and explode on the top side because the exposure of the heat. Fry them until both sides golden brown then take them out of the oil and put onto some layers of kitchen paper towel to remove the excess oil. Fry the rest of the pastels then serve them while they are still warm with some chili rawit or chili sauce.
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