I grew up eating pastel goreng in Jakarta. My mother used to make it a lot when she was younger. She would stuff the pastel with chicken, potatoes, boiled egg, glass noodle, and carrot, neatly wrapped it, before plunged them in big wok of boiling oil and fried them crispy and golden. Just like any good Indonesian, we would eat it with a dollop of chilli sauce or simply with a piece of the dangerously hot bird’s eye chilli. Holding the pastel on one hand and the chilli on the other hand, and alternatively eating them. It was the familiar taste of my childhood.
When I moved to Europe, I got to know many friends from Latin America. From them, particularly the Argentineans and the Chileans, I got to learn that pastel goreng is not uniquely Indonesian. They even have great varieties of empanada (that’s how they called it there), fried and baked, with different types of filling; savoury and sweet. (see my fellow blogger, Rebecca Caro’s website: From Argentina with love, where she also regularly hosts the Empanada of the month event).
From the wiki, I found out that empanada is actually well known in Spain and Portugal, and also the whole Americas. The Italian calzone is also rather similar.
That fact really gets me wondering, from where we got the tradition of making pastel? It definitely could not be from the Dutch kitchen. It could be a derivation from the Chinese dumpling? Or may be even from The Portuguese who had briefly stayed in the archipelago centuries earlier. Who knows?
The fact that we used boiled egg in the filling really reminds me of the Latin American empanadas, but the addition of glass noodle must have been a Chinese influence.
Pastel goreng should have thin skin that gets a bit bubbly when you fry them. It is made of all purpose flour, melted butter, egg and water. The authentic recipe would call for minced meat or chicken, diced boiled potato, carrot, green peas, glass noodle and sliced boiled egg for the stuffing. Some would also put a piece of bird’s eye chilli in the pastel to give an extra kick. It makes it exciting since you never know when you are going have it. The taste should be somewhat peppery (from white pepper) and sweetish, since Indonesian always put a bit of sugar to every savoury dishes to balance the flavour.
This pastel goreng, I must say is not really the authentic Indonesian version, it was actually a sort of raid the fridge pastel. I made them with whatever ingredients I could find in my fridge; left over from the previous dinner: boiled potatoes and roasted chicken, green bean and frozen peas. I always find pleasure and pride of being able to create something out of the left over. To give another dimension of flavour, I added a dash of curry powder to it. It kind of reminds me of Samosa a little bit.
Here is what you need to make around 16 medium pastel goreng
For the skin
2 ½ cup all purpose flour (and extra for the kneading)
5 table spoon melted butter
½ cup cold water
A pinch of salt to taste
For the stuffing
2 cup diced boiled potato (since I used new potato, I don’t bother to peel them)
1 ½ cup thinly sliced green bean
1 cup frozen peas
1 ½ cup diced cooked chicken
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 chicken bouillons block
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp white pepper
1 cup water
Oil to fry
1. Heat a bit of oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic. Fry until fragrant.
2. Add the green beans and cook around 3 minutes.
3. Add the chicken, the potatoes, curry powder, sugar and pepper, mixed well.
4. Add the peas, the bouillons and the water. Simmer until the water evaporates. Make sure that the bouillon block is diluted.
5. Let cool and proceed to make the skin
6. Mix the flour, salt and the melted butter in a big bowl, until it gets crumbly.
7. Add the water and egg. Knead it for around ten minutes until the dough is smooth.
8. Divide the dough into sixteen little balls.
9. Take one ball, place it on a heavily floured surface and roll it flat with a rolling pin to make a 15cm round circle.
10. Take one heap table spoon of the filling and place it in the centre of the circle. Fold the circle over to form a half circle. Seal the joints by pressing it gently using the back of a teaspoon. Make sure it is well sealed; otherwise it will leak during the frying. Continue until you finish up all the dough.
11. Heat oil (2cm depth) in a frying pan, fry the pastel in batches in both sides until crispy and golden.
12. Serve warm.