Pastel Com o Diabo Dentro – Cape Verdean Pastry with the Devil Inside

The filling may be as hot (devilish) as you like; just vary the amount of chillies added to the filling. Grilled fresh tuna gives the best results, but you may use high-quality canned tuna in a pinch. The pastry is a blend of cooked and puréed sweet potato, mixed with fine polenta.

Pastel Com o Diabo Dentro - Cape Verdean Pastry with the Devil Inside
The filling may be as hot (devilish) as you like; just vary the amount of chillies added to the filling. Grilled fresh tuna gives the best results, but you may use high-quality canned tuna in a pinch. The pastry is a blend of cooked and puréed sweet potato, mixed with fine polenta.
Ingredients
For pastry (makes sixteen x 8 cm circles)
  • 1 large sweet potato, unpeeled, cooked until very tender, and puréed to a smooth paste
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • ¾ tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 - 3 cups fine polenta, as needed to form a dough
For filling (makes enough for 16 pastries)
  • ¾ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 hot chilli peppers, minced, or to taste
  • 450 g fresh tuna fillet or steak, grilled to medium rare and cooled and sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • minced chives, for garnish
Instructions
For pastry
  1. Mix the sweet potato purée in a large bowl with the egg yolk and melted butter. Mix in enough polenta to form a stiff dough. Add a few spoonfuls of the cooking water from the sweet potatoes if necessary.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and chill for one hour.
For filling
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until transparent. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds, then add the chillies and cook 2 minutes.
  2. Toss with the tuna, tomatoes, and salt. Allow the mixture to cool and reserve.
To assemble
  1. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out 3 mm thick. Cut the dough into sixteen x 8 cm circles.
  2. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling slightly off centre of each circle and fold over to enclose the filling. Press the edges firmly to seal. Reserve, covered and refrigerated. (The pastéis can be made several hours in advance.)
To cook the pastéis
  1. Heat the vegetable oil to 185°C and fry, in batches, 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm until ready to serve.
Serving
  1. Serve each person 2 turnovers, cut in half, garnished with minced chives.

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