If you choose not to embrace empanadas while living in South America, then you are severely limiting your convenience food options. They are the ultimate fast food and a perfect bite on the go–tiny, warm, cheap, and filling. There is a lot of debate amongst Argentine’s as to which region of the country prepares them best, but many purport that it is in fact the Northern region of Salta.
As a self-proclaimed empanada connoisseur, I deemed it necessary to sample this regional style of cooking and decide my own opinion on the matter. So I headed to a very old and authentic hole-in-the-wall place, located just 3 blocks from my apartment called Na Serapia. There is an antique charm about the tiny place that comes highly recommended by locals.
I started the meal with a couple of Chicken Empanadas, Spicy Beef Empanadas, and Saltena-style Empanadas ($5 pesos ea.). Out of the three the chicken one was my favorite because of the flavor and moisture in the shredded meat. The spicy chile sauce (or oil, rather) that they serve to accompany the empanada is also very good…and rarely found in a country which loathes spicy food! Besides the fillings, the pastries themselves were delicious. They were light and flakey, almost like a puff pastry. They also had a nice buttery texture, as opposed to the thick doughy texture of some other place’s empanadas.
Next I ordered a Tamale to split with my friend Julie. For those of you unfamiliar with tamales, they are masa (a starchy corn dough) stuffed with ground beef, which is then steamed and served in corn leaf wrapper ($18 pesos ea.). I have to admit that although I came for the empanadas, I was much more impressed by the quality of the tamale. Actually, I thought it was the best that I have had to date. The sweet corn dough was a perfect contrast to the spicy chile oil that I spooned on top, and the meat was soft and tender. The whole thing crumbled beautifully when poked with the fork. You must try!!
As if this wasn’t already enough food, I then ordered a bowl Locro, which is a hearty stew of beans and pork with chorizo ($27 pesos) typical of the Northern region. I really enjoyed the soup, but still think that La Cocina serves the best in the city.
Overall, I was pleased with my meal and wowed by the tamale. I would definitely go back soon because I think it is a charming atmosphere with good service and a tasty food.
READ ANOTHER BLOGGER REVIEW – TheLostAsian