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A girl, a salteña, and a story to remember

Passport & Plate - Bolivian Salteñas

Bolivia | Tuesday, 11 March 2014 | 5 photos

1 pound of ground beef

3 tablespoons of yellow chili paste
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon cumin
½ large white onion- diced

½ cup green onion- finely chopped
3 tablespoons cup fresh parsley- finely chopped
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup of frozen peas
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 cups of beef broth
1 package of unflavored gelatin (.25 of an ounce)

1 2.5 oz can of sliced and pitted black olives
3 hard boiled eggs- diced
3/4 cup of raisins

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter- shredded
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon paprika


Boil potatoes for 5 minutes; drain.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add yellow chili paste and stir until paste separates from butter, about 5 minutes

Brown ground beef in separate pan

Add cumin, white onion, green onion, parsley, potatoes, peas & salt & pepper to the chili paste mixture; stir. Sauté ~ 5 minutes

Add cooked ground beef & 4 cups of beef broth to the mixture; stir until simmers

Transfer contents to bowl. Add 2 cups of beef broth and mix. Sprinkle gelatin packet into the bowl and stir. Let it sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day:

Hard-boil the eggs, peel, and put aside.


Preheat oven to 420.

Combine flour, sugar, & salt in bowl & mix. Shred butter into flour mix

Comb through the flour mix with fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs

Add hot water slowly to the flour mix; knead dough together; transfer onto countertop and knead for 1 min. into ball.

Cut dough to make 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; place them inside bowl; cover with towel.

Lightly flour countertop and rolling pin. Take a ball of dough and roll out until ¼ of an inch thick & 7-9 inches in diameter.

Place filling in the middle of dough. Make sure there is enough dough to pinch edges together to make half-moon shape.

Add a tsp. of egg, 6-7 raisins, and 2-3 olives on top of the filling.

Hold both edges of the dough towards ceiling with the meat on the bottom. Rest the heavy, filled part of the salteña on your countertop, and slowly pinch each edge of dough together from one end of the half-moon to the other, making the dough a bit more thin and stretched out when you pinch the edges (thumbnail sized width)

Use your thumb and forefinger at one end to twist the seam “in” and repeat. The tighter and smaller you twist the seam, the more effective it will be.

Place salteñas on aluminum-covered baking sheets. Whisk eggs, water, and paprika together in a small bowl, and baste the salteñas

Bake each batch until golden brown.

The story behind this recipe:
In Bolivia, the locals eat salteñas for a morning snack -a very different breakfast to my typical eggs and pancakes- so, I was delighted to come across a food stand selling these savory pastries my very first morning in La Paz. I took one into my hands, and disregarding any thought of etiquette or sophistication, I munched into that salteña like I hadn't eaten for years; hot juice running down my chin, bits of flakey crust sticking to the edges of my mouth; I didn't care. It was one of those foods that wasn't just delicious; it was mind-numbingly good. I quickly whipped around, turning to the man who sold me that heavenly treat. “Delicioso, señor!!” I exclaimed, my mouth absolutely stuffed to the brim. The man, surprised, looked slowly into my messy, food-stained face and started to laugh. It was obvious I had never eaten a salteña before and he decided to help me, showing me the proper way to eat a salteña by holding one upright, nibbling at a corner and eating downwards without spilling a single drop of juice. After thanking him profusely, he gave me a wink and a knowing smile. “Bienvenidos a Bolivia, amiga.”, he answered. That connection- a brief, fleeting moment of a local man welcoming me into his country- resonated deeply within me. It was the first time I realized that food had the power to connect people, regardless of what country they were from or which language they spoke.

The self-developed salteñas recipe I'm submitting is an ode to the first thing I ever ate in Bolivia, or in any country outside the U.S., for that matter. This recipe is incredibly meaningful to me because I consider the salteña, and the memory that it invokes, the beginning of a fiery passion for food, culture, and travel that has stayed with me ever since that first trip to Bolivia. I don't know if I would be where I am today -an aspiring culinary anthropologist- had I not discovered food's remarkable ability to bring people together, back at that food stand in La Paz, years ago.

About sorryimnotsorry

a delicious, steaming salteña, ready to eat! buen provecho!

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