A few weeks ago I was walking down Itaewon High Street and saw that yet another a new restaurant was being built, when I saw that it was a pancake place I didn’t pay much attention, but I quickly found out that the new opening of the Original Pancake House was a very big deal indeed, or at least to my American friends. Original Pancake House is located in the old Burger King location just underneath Coffeesmith, I believe they also have a location in Sinsa too, though I’ve never ventured there myself as I’m not overly keen on pancakes. Personally I like to start my day with something savoury, the thought of eating cake soaked in syrup before my eggs always sends a shiver down my spine, and they always seem too stodgy and filling to eat as dessert. But since they went to the effort of opening a restaurant here in Itaewon, It would have been rude of me not to give it a try.
Last summer I met a man in a pub. We soon got chatting about food and travel and the conversation swiftly moved on to the pizza in New York. Now I’m no expert but I certainly did try my fair share of slices whilst I was in the Big Apple early last year, and I’ve been craving one of those super skinny cheese topped goodies ever since. As we continued to chat, Eugene revealed to me that he was getting into the pizza business himself and was currently on the lookout for premises in the Itaewon area to open up his own New York Style Pizzeria. I was as happy as a clam upon hearing the news, despite the fact that there’re about 8 pizza restaurants on every corner of the neigbourhood, most of them leave a lot to be desired. So I waited, and waited and waited, until finally, about 6 months later, I heard that Gino’s was to open its doors, and the second I came back from Bali I accepted Eugene’s kind invitation to come and give it a try on the house.
I first fell in love with empanadas when I backpacked my way around South America. I started in Venezuela and ended in Brazil, and there was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t partake of these delicious delights. Empanadas vary from country to county whether the pastry is baked or fried, but they are constantly delicious. Some of my favourites were the fried chicken variety from Venezuela. They came with this amazing avocado sauce. I could have eaten them until my belly popped. Even to this day I still long for that delicious delicious sauce and thought it was about time I got around to making some. Mine aren’t 100% authentic but they were very very tasty.
2 chicken breasts
3 red peppers
4 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning
5-6 tablespoons of salsa
Avocado dipping sauce
A bunch of coriander
5 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
400g of all purpose flour (I use the one for noodles and dumplings)
A pinch of salt
6 oz unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cold and cut into 12 pieces
4-5 tablespoons of water
2 eggs beaten with a drop of milk for brushing
Sift together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine bread crumbs. In a separate bowl just beat together the egg and water, then add to the butter and flour mixture and bring together to form a dough. Once the dough forms, wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge for an hour.
To make the filling, boil your two chicken breasts until they have cooked through and leave to cool. Finely chop the onion, garlic, and red peppers and fry off in a little oil for a few minutes until they have softened. Shred your chicken breasts using two forks and add to the frying pan along with the taco seasoning and fry for a few more minutes. Add the salsa and cook for a further minute making sure everything has combined. Leave the mixture to cool while you make the dipping sauce.
To make the amazing avocado dipping sauce put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You may wish to add more sour cream if you think it’s too thick. Also make sure your avocados are very ripe, as they will difficult to blend if they are too hard.
After the dough has chilled roll it out flat until it’s about 1mm-2mm thick. Cut out your circles using something circular. I used a lid of a plastic container that was about 4 inches in diameter. The larger your circle the bigger the empanadas will be. I managed to make 16.
Put two spoonfuls of filling into the empanada
Brush beaten egg around the outside then fold over to make a half moon shape. Then seal by pressing a fork all the way around the edge.
Brush the empanadas with more egg wash and bake in an oven at 200 degrees celcius for about 12-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve with your delicious avocado dip and enjoy. Voilà a taste of South America.