Aug 25, 2016 3:38 AM GMT
NYT: Call a salteña an empanada at your own risk.
At first glance, it may look like one, a pouch of stuffed dough with a ruffly edge. There the resemblance ends.
First, the dough is sweet, touched with cane sugar and ají amarillo, an Andean chile that tastes of mango, raisins and a steady onslaught of sun. The dough is thicker than an empanada’s, too, crunchy on the outside and chewier as you bite in, like an underbaked cookie.
Salteñas are plumper than empanadas and served balanced on the base with the seam at the top, a hardy braid that bulges like a prehistoric spine. In Bolivia, this is supposed to be black, like the waist-length braids of the country’s indigenous women, worn under bowler hats. “Here, people just think it looks burned,” said Patrick Oropeza, the chef, who stops the baking at dark gold.
Most important is that salteñas are heavy with jigote, a soupy stew cooked for days, lush with broken-down cow’s foot and kindled by roasted chile paste. This is left to set, then cut into wobbly cubes and sealed inside the dough. No air pockets are allowed, lest the salteñas, mid-baking, explode.