Four-cheese pastels

Four-cheese pastels

Cabana The Cookbook
Martin Poole

Brasil has the largest Japanese community outside Japan, but because the two countries were once at war, many Japanese immigrants tried to pass as Chinese, cooking their native dishes with a Chinese accent. The pastel (originating from the spring roll) is one such dish, and is still enjoyed all over the country.


Quantity Ingredient
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 tablespoon chicken stock, hot
15g lard, melted
1 tablespoon cachaca
100g gruyere cheese, grated
100g cream cheese
100g feta cheese, crumbled
100g ricotta
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
vegetable or groundnut oil, for deep-frying
Molho vinagrete, to serve
Mango salsa, to serve


  1. First, make the dough. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre. Stir the stock, lard, cachaça and 125 ml warm water in a jug, then pour this into the well. Stir together to form a soft dough. If it’s too dry and won’t form a ball, gradually add more warm water until it comes together. Tip the mixture on to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. Do not overwork it, or it will become tough. Cover with clingfilm and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Mix together the four cheeses and black pepper in a small bowl and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough very thinly (cover the other half in clingfilm), then cut out 10 cm squares. Put 1 teaspoon filling in the centre of each square on one side. Brush a little water around the edges, then fold over the other half to make a rectangle. Press down on the edges to seal, trying not to create any air pockets. Use the tines of a fork to press down along all four sides to ensure a good seal. Continue making the rest of the pastels, transferring them to the baking sheet.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C. Fry in batches for 3–4 minutes, until golden brown on both sides, turning them halfway. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you fry the rest. Serve warm with molho vinagrete or mango salsa, if you like.

Prawn and palm heart pastels

  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, add a finely chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves and cook gently for a few minutes. Skin, deseed and finely chop 2 tomatoes and add to the pan with 1 tablespoon tomato purée. Stir well and cook for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Drain and roughly chop a 400 g tin of palm hearts. Roughly chop 100 g cooked, peeled prawns. Add to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Allow to cool before filling the pastels as described in the recipe.

Beef pastels

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide pan, add 400 g minced beef and cook until browned. Add 1 finely chopped spring onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 2 peeled, deseeded and chopped tomatoes. Fry for a few more minutes until the tomatoes have softened. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Allow to cool before filling the pastels as described in the recipe.
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