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A specialty from the Philippines, this flavor-packed Ilocos empanada recipe takes you on a savory adventure. Crispy with an orange outer shell, the scrumptious papaya and longganisa filling is a delightful treat in every bite.
What is Ilocos Empanadas?
The Ilocos region in northern Philippines is adored for its flavorful cuisine. One of the most celebrated dishes is the local Ilocos empanadas.
The stuffed Ilocos empanada is made of rice flour and stuffed with green papaya, longganisa sausages, and hard-boiled eggs. It is bright orange in color and deliciously crunchy.
What makes the Ilocos emapandas unique is its distinctive bright orange color which comes from the use of annatto seeds. Another characteristic of the Ilocano empanada is that served with a distinctive vinegar-based dipping sauce.
Vigan vs. Batac vs. Ilocos Empanada, is there a difference?
These three types of empanadas originate from the Ilocos region of the Philippines, and while they share some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart:
- The crust: the crust of the Vigan empanadas is the thinnest of the three kinds.
- The stuffing: the stuffing for the Illocos empanadas always contains longganisa or Filipino sausage. It may or may be included in the other two styles.
- The dipping sauce: the final difference between the three styles of empanadas is the dipping sauce. The vinegar based dipping sauce is used in the Ilocos empanada. In this Ilocos empanada recipe, we recommend savoring your empanada with a Filipino vinegar dipping sauce.
Ilocos Empanadas History
Ilocos empanadas combine Spanish and Chinese influences with locally available ingredients.
Stuffed or wrapped pastries were introduced by the Spanish. And, the Chinese are said to have introduced the use of rice flour in the empanada dough.
The orange color comes from the use of annatto seeds which grow locally. Traditionally, the main filling for this filling snack was egg and bits of longganisa Filipino sausage.
And, for the most satisfying Ilocos empanada experience, it is sprinkled or dipped into a spicy local vinegar and washed down with an ice-cold beverage.
In the Ilocos region, the best places to try these empanadas are at the local markets.
However, with this simple Ilocos empanadas recipe, you’ll be able to bring the delicious tastes of Illocos to your home kitchen.
Discovering Batac Empanadas in The Philippines
While visiting the Philippines, we traveled north to the Ilocos region to discover Ilocano regional cuisine.
One of the most striking Ilocos foods we immediately loved was the Ilocos empanadas savory snack.
While the bright orange color grabbed our attention, the combination of flavors and textures made it our favorite delicious treat.
This much-loved Filipino food is easy to recreate in your kitchen.
We’re excited to share this simple Bataca Ilocos empanadas recipe and introduce you to one of the most treasured regional foods.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For another tasty recipe from Ilocos, see our simple Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe: How To Make Easy To Cook Filipino Pakbet
Watch our Batac Ilocos Empanadas Video
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To Make The Filling
- Vegetable oil
- Garlic cloves
- Red onion
- Green papaya
- Mung beans
- Soy sauce
- Longganisa or substitute with pork chorizo
- Salt and pepper to taste
The empanada Ilocos are traditionally eaten with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce. For an authentic Ilocano-style sauce, use Sukang Iloco dipping sauce.
If you like spicy flavors, you can mix the sauce with fresh red chilies, minced garlic, salt, and ground pepper to taste.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: For another simple and traditional empanada recipe, see our Argentinian Empanadas Mendocino Style Recipe.
Ilocano Empanada Recipe Tips
To help you make the perfect Ilocos empanadas at home, here are a few simple tips to guide you.
How To Make Ilocos Empanada Dough
Unlike other empanada recipes which are made with flour, the Ilocos empanada includes the use of rice flour.
The rice flour helps make the empanadas dough even more crispy, which is a signature element of these empanadas.
Rice flour is also naturally gluten-free making the empanadas more friendly for those with gluten intolerances.
How To Seal The Empanadas
To seal the Ilocos empanadas is quite simple. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circular shape about the size of a dinner plate.
Fold the dough to form a half-moon and then stuff the empanada. Press the edges together with your fingers to seal the ends of the empanada.
Using a blunt knife or the edges of the plate, trim off the excess dough to have a uniform shape and size.
How To Make The Dough Crunchy
Ilocos empanadas are traditionally deep-fried until crisp and golden brown. To ensure your empanadas have the signature crunch the empanadas are known for, make sure your oil is hot enough.
Using a deep-fry thermometer, make sure the oil is at least 320ºF or around 160ºC.
Ilocos Empanada Recipe Substitutes
Longganisa Filipino Sausage Substitutes – Longganisa are Filipino cured sausages. There are many varieties and one of the most famous is Vigan which is traditionally used in Ilocos empanadas.
Vigan longganisa is difficult to find outside the Philippines. For this Ilocos empanada recipe, you can substitute with Pork Chorizo, which has the same garlic and black pepper seasonings.
Ilocos Empanadas Step by Step Instructions
Prepare Dough with Rice Flour
Make the empanada dough by bringing water, oil, salt, and annatto powder to a boil in a pot.
Add rice flour and then the all-purpose flour and mix until you have a rough dough.
Remove from heat, knead using a rolling pin for about 2 minutes, and let the empanada dough cool completely.
Make Batac Empanada Filling
Stir fry mung beans and shredded green papaya in a hot skillet with onions and garlic. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper.
Assemble your longganisa, mung bean, and shredded papaya together with the empanada dough.
Fry The Empanada
Spread the empanada mixture on one side of the flattened dough and create a well at the center of the filling. Crack an egg and place it in the center of the filling and fold.
Gently place the empanada into a heated deep frying pan and fry the empanada until crisp.
Ilocano Empanada Recipe
To Make The Dough
- Place water, oil, salt, and annatto powder in a pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Stir in the rice flour and the all-purpose flour. Mix well until it forms a rough dough.
- Remove from the heat and knead the dough for about 2 minutes. Let it cool completely.
- Pour oil into a hot skillet and saute minced onions and garlic for a minute.
- Add in the mung beans and green papaya and stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Drizzle with soy sauce and mix well.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- To assemble, divide the dough into 4 portions. Wrap each dough in a cling film or saran wrap.
- Unwarp the first ball of dough and using a rolling pin roll out the empanada dough to form a large flat circle.
- Spoon out 3 tbsp of the mung bean and grated papaya filling and place onto one side of the dough.
- Create a well at the center of the filling.
- Crack an egg and place it at the center of the savory filling. Add a tablespoon of Vigan Longganisa.
- Fold the flattened dough to form a half-moon and press the edges to seal. Cut the excess dough to have a uniform shape and size.
- Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
- Fry the empanada in vegetable cooking oil until crispy. Drain excess oil of each cooked empanada on paper towels.
- Serve hot with spiced Sukang Iloco dipping sauce.
- Raw mung beans or bean sprouts can be difficult to cook on the spot as it would take hours. Soak the dry mung beans for a couple of hours and boil them together with a thumb-sized piece of ginger and ¼ cup sliced red onions. This will help infuse flavor and keep the mung beans flavorful.
- It can be tricky adding the whole egg to the empanada because the egg whites will run out once you fold the dough. You can place the egg yolks instead of having the whole egg. Or, to use a whole egg, use small-sized eggs.
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest