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Venezuelan Cazon Empanadas | Mommyhood's Diary

Venezuelan Cazon Empanadas

Venezuelan Empanadas have a crisp crust and tender inner texture. The ULTIMATE finger food...perfect for any occasion!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Venezuelan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8 empanadas
Calories 206kcal


Cazon Filling:

  • 4 Shark steaks (see notes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons achiote oil (onoto, annatto) (see notes)
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup small sweet pepper, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup leeks, cleaned, and sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1/2 cup green onion, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Harina P.A.N (pre-cooked white maize meal)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Oil to fry (I use corn oil)


Make the filling:

  • Place the shark steaks, bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the fish is cooked about 15 minutes. Transfer the fish to a bowl and shred with a fork (be careful to remove the skin and/or bones). Set aside. 
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, sweet peppers, leeks, green onions, and garlic; cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin. Add the shark, mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

Make the dough:

  • Wash your hands. In a medium bowl add water, salt, and sugar. Mix until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  • Mix Harina P.A.N, flour, and baking powder in a bowl
  • Slowly add dry ingredients to the water and mix/incorporate with your hands, making circular movements and breaking with your finger the lumps that may form. Let rest 5 minutes to thicken. The dough should be firm enough holds its shape without cracking when molded. If it is too soft add a little more of harina P.A.N; if too hard add a little more water.

Form the empanadas:

  • Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and form into little balls. Flatten each ball between two sheets of plastic until it is approximately 8 inches (see notes). Put some of the cazon filling in the center of the empanada, about 1-2 tablespoons. Using the plastic sheet, carefully fold over the dough into a semicircle. Trim into a half-moon shape with a knife or press down with the round edge of a bowl.

Fry the empanadas:

  • Heat enough oil in a skillet until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350º F. Fry the empanadas in batches until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet; keep warm in the oven at 300º F.
  • Serve hot.


I buy the shark steak at my local Asian market.
To make annatto oil just heat 1 cup of oil (I use corn oil) in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the 1/2 cup of annatto seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the oil becomes a rich, orange-red color, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook or it will have a disagreeable flavor. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain the oil into a jar; discarding the seeds. Keep covered in the refrigerator.
To flatten the dough many people use a tortilla press, which they say it's pretty convenient, but I don't have one so I do it with my hands and it works perfectly.


Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 398mg | Potassium: 283mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1003IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg