Pastels (Fried Fish Pies)

  • Serves

    makes about 2 dozen


A popular snack along Senegal's coast where seafood is plentiful, these small fried hand pies are filled with a spicy herb and fish filling. Serve them with kaani sauce. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with John O'Connor's story A Feast For All.


  • 1 34 cups flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 habañero or Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 8 oz. white fish, such as mackerel, trout, or dorad
  • 4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 leaves basil, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Step 1

Combine flour, egg, and 6 tbsp. water in a bowl and stir until dough begins to form into a shaggy mass; transfer dough to a work surface and knead until all flour is absorbed and dough is smooth, about 6 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, and chile, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in fish, parsley, cilantro, basil, and salt and pepper; set filling aside.

Step 2

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 1⁄8"-thick circle; using a 3" round cutter, cut out about 24 circles from dough. Place about 1 tsp. filling in the center of a dough circle, and using your finger, wet the edge of half the circle; close circle over filling to create a half moon and press on the edges to seal. Using a fork, crimp edges to close; repeat with remaining filling and dough circles.

Step 3

Pour oil to a depth of 2" in a 6-qt. Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 350°. Working in batches, fry pies until golden brown and filling is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer pies to parchment paper to drain; serve hot with kaani sauce.

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