Main Dishes Recipes — By Ben on 24 March 2008
Royal fish empanadas and coconut rice

Another food event that I have been participating for a while, and one of my favorites, is the Royal Foodie Joust created by the industrious, and good friend of mine, Left-Over Queen, Jenn. The food event consists on creating a dish with three ingredients chosen by the previous winner. The entries have to be submitted by the first of every month and members of The Left-Over Queen Forum can vote for their favorite. If you don’t belong to the forum, what are you waiting for? It is a fun forum where foodies from all over the world come together to talk about food and other fun topics.My good friend Val of More Than Burnt Toast was last month’s winner. She chose three amazing ingredients for this month, coconut, any kind of seafood and lime or lemon. I immediately started to create some combinations in my mind, but after a lot of thought I decided to give a little twist to one of my mom’s recipes, tuna empanadas.

Instead of tuna I used tilapia for the empanadas filling and I cooked it with lime. Trying to fit the coconut in the recipe was the hard part. I wanted to cook the fish in coconut water, but the empanadas filling needs to be dry to be able to bake them. I solved the problem by sprinkling coconut flakes on top of the empanadas and I used the coconut water to make buttery coconut rice. The result was so good that even Jon, who doesn’t eat fish, liked it.

Tilapia empanadas
Printable version
Makes 10 empanadas
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Method: boil, fry, bake

For this recipe you will need:


  • 1 lb tilapia filets
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4-6 black olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt and pepper



  • 2 cups rice
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 11.8oz can coconut water
  • 1 15oz can whole kernel corn


  1. Boil fish filets with a bit of salt until tender.
  2. In a saucepan sauté onion and garlic. Add fish and stir constantly. Fish should be tender enough so it falls easily apart.
  3. Add olives, tomatoes, parsley, and limejuice. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes and refrigerate.
  5. In the meantime, roll pastry dough out and cut circles with a cookie cutter or a round plastic container.
  6. When the filling is cool start making the empanadas.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  8. Brush some egg yolk in half of the edge of one of the circles with a pastry brush.
  9. Put a spoonful of filling in the middle of the circle and fold it in half; bringing it together the edge with egg yolk over the opposite edge.
  10. With a fork seal the empanada, brush some more egg yolk on top for coloring and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  11. Place over greased cookie sheet.
  12. Repeat operation with the rest of the circles.
  13. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown. Cool before serving.

For the rice:

  • Fry rice in butter until it starts turning golden, add coconut water and corn with the liquid it comes in. Season to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender and has absorbed the liquids.

Empanadas are so versatile that they can be sweet or savory. They are perfect for snacks, lunches and dinner, like in this case. I specially love this kind of empanadas because they are made with puff pastry, just like my mom makes them. I still have some puff pastry in the fridge and I think I am going to make chicken empanadas next. Wait for the recipe.

Buen provecho!

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(28) Readers Comments

  1. Fish wrapped in pastry? Finally, a seafood dish I can fall in love with!

  2. Your empanadas and the whole dish look great. I am having difficulties with the coconut as I use it only in desserts. Good luck with the Joust.

  3. Like I said on the forum, Ben, WOWOWOWOWOWOW! Please thank your mom for being such a great inspiration! These are fantastic! Best of luck! :)

  4. oh my gosh~ my monkey absolutely LURVES tilapia! she would flip for these. Thanks for such a great idea, per usual you SO rock!

  5. Beautiful empanadas. Is that the right word? Beautiful? Maybe handsome is better.
    I think you deserve to win the joust, fo sho. Great job!

    I dunno if I’m going to participate. I have less than a week, and I don’t see it happening. Seafood is baaad in these parts.

  6. Caramba Ben! What a great dish you made with the three ingredients! These empanadas are so original with the coconut on top, I wish I could have a bite :D Good luck in the joust, I hope I can make it too… got the recipe but have to find some time to perform it.
    Hasta luego, amigo!

  7. thats one creative recipe ben… i am a vegetarian but i can think of other substitutes for fillet… and i liked the idea of using coconut milk and corn kernals in rice. in south india coconut rice is one of the most sought after dish where fresh coconut is ground with few spices to tickle ur taste bud :)

  8. wow..thats really so wonderful..we have few Indian sweets made this way..and its interesting to see other fillings…you have a great place going here…the entire plate looks very appeasing..!

  9. Hey, that looks like a winner to me. But i’m not judging on the competition. haha
    I bet it’s delicious… as a matter of fact i don’t think i ever had an empanada that tasted bad!

  10. Wow, I’ve never had seafood in empanadas before. Sounds like a great combination of flavors. I’ll have to check out the Joust & the forum- haven’t jumped in yet!

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