Is this a story about a white man teaching an Asian girl how to make dumplings? Oh no no no, because that would never happen and these are not dumplings. These are pasteis, or in some other countries known as pastel. In Portugal, pasteis are pastries that are made into desserts and hors d’ouevres. Perhaps their most famous pastei is the Pasteis De Nata, or more commonly known to the English-speaking world as the Portuguese egg tart. I later learned that in other countries with Hispanic roots, pasteis is the same as pastel. My mom used to make chicken pastel for us all the time growing up, a chicken pot pie type recipe her mom passed on to her. I will have to make it one of these days soon!
Last Sunday, Paul taught me how to make pasteis which his mom made for him growing up. He has fond memories of standing on his feet for hours in the kitchen helping her to make these tiny dough pockets filled with goodness. This is a recipe passed down from his great-grandmother to his grandmother, who passed it on to his mom, who has now passed it on to him.
This recipe is the shortcut version. The original recipe required making the dough from scratch but to make it easier Paul’s mom taught him a shortcut by using purchased dumpling wrappers. Here they are filled with a mixture of pink and sockeye salmon and then wrapped up like mini empanadas. You can experiment with different kinds of fillings, Paul said he also grew up making it with tuna.
You want to stay close while you fry them because it doesn’t take long for them to turn a beautiful golden brown. And as the oil gets hotter and hotter, they cook up even faster.
The kitchen became a factory that night and Paul and I made over a 100 pasteis! Actually, it felt more like a carnival because the frying brought out the familiar smells of street food at a fair. It is worth all the work because before you know it you will have eaten at least 10 in one sitting alone! They are especially delicious straight out of the fryer but they make great snacks as well (if you’re not trying to lose weight, that is). You can pop them in the toaster to crisp them back again. I must warn you, they are highly addictive!!
- To store, lay them out with wax paper sheets in between.
- Double the recipe if you want to make over 100 pasteis.
- Don’t add too much mayo, just enough to bind the mixture together.
- Don’t worry if it tastes a bit salty, it will even out once cooked because you don’t season after frying.
- Don’t toss the oil down the sink or toilet after frying, it will clog your pipes. Wait for it to cool and then pour into an old milk carton or a sealable (ideally unrecyclable) container and then discard.
Marie’s Fish Pasteis
What you need:
Dumpling wrapper pack (with 2 stacks)
2 cans of pink salmon, drained
2 cans of sockeye salmon, drained
Mayo to taste
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
a small bowl of water (to dip into to seal the wrappers)
Grapeseed oil, for frying
What to do:
1. Drain the salmon and discard skin and bones.
2. In a large bowl, mix together salmon, mayo, parlsey, salt and pepper.
3. Dust your work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Lay the wrappers out and add about a teaspoon and a half of filling to each one.
4. Dip your finger in water and gently moisten the inner edges of the wrapper. Fold in half and seal by pressing the edges together.
5. Press your fork down hard on the edges to seal it even tighter and to create a pretty design.
6. Deep fry in grapeseed oil and take out once they are golden brown. Don’t walk away because they cook really fast!
7. Set on a paper towel immediately after taking out of oil.