Just a few days ago, what I knew about Cape Verde could be summarized to its location and its Barefoot Diva, Cesaria Evora.
I just spent 8 days at a resort in Morocco, where I had the great pleasure of meeting a lovely Cape Verdean couple, Matias and Mariana, owners of a tavern in Cape Verde. During a meal followed by some lounge chair “action” by the swimming pool, I told them all about 196 flavors and they told me a little about Cape Verde. I quickly stole the island from Mike who had “reserved” it.
Knowing that this week was going to be focused on fish, Mariana suggested the famous fish pastels that are eaten throughout the country usually as an appetizer before lunch or dinner. She serves them every day at her café. Cape Verdean pastels are typically made with canned tuna, but there are also restaurants that fill them with white fish, which is what I chose to do.
Pastel, which is pronounced “pach’tel” in Portuguese and Spanish is the name given to various crispy or fried delicacies in many Hispanic or Portuguese countries, whether the preparation is sweet or savory.
In countries of Portuguese influence such as Cape Verde, they are also called pasteis con peixe (fish pastels).
A few weeks ago, Joanne published the famous pasteis de nata from Portugal and if I understand the explanation provided to me by Mariana and Matias (and the web), those would fall under the sweet pastel category.
In Praia, because they’re pretty darn good, they were nicknamed pasteis com diablo dentro (pastels with the devil inside). They are indeed that good!
Last week already, I shared with you the Bahamian devil ! What is happening to me? I am already very much attached to the islands. Am I going to be attached to the devil now?
Recipe of Pastel
For the dough
- 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup milk, warm
For the filling
- 4 white fish fillets, diced (for example 2 sea bream fillets + 2 halibut fillets)
2 onions, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 cloves (optional)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 shallot, grated
2 green hot peppers, sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
Neutral oil for frying
In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
Make a well, add the egg and oil in the center.
Turn the food processor on to medium and add water gradually until the dough is smooth and light.
Let the dough rest at room temperature, protected from temperature changes or drafts for 1h15.
Sauté the onions in olive oil without browning.
Add the shallot and garlic and continue to sauté.
Add the remaining ingredients all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring often until the liquid is reduced.
Assembly and cooking of the pastels
Dust working surface with flour.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
Cut out circles with a cookie cutter.
Stretch each circle a little and place a small mound of filling in the center.
Assemble the circle by folding one corner onto the other to form a crescent, then pinch the edges. Seal all the way around with a fork.
Deep fry the pastels in a non-stick skillet filled with oil.
Drain in a metal colander or place on paper towel and serve hot.