My mother got this recipe from her friend Judy, a Korean woman who immigrated to Argentina before making her way to the States. Judy’s empanadas are like grown-up hot pockets, neatly packaged meals of tomato-y beef, melty cheese, hard-boiled egg, and a single olive tucked into each like in a dirty martini (which makes all the difference). Stored in the freezer, they feed the family happily throughout the holiday season.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

    TOR-Korean American Book Cover Korean American Eric Kim
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 10 store-bought empanada wrappers

  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

  • 10 pimiento-stuffed green olives

  • 16 ounces shredded low moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)

  • Vegetable oil, for frying


1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring often, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the onion and sauté until translucent, about

5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the filling cool completely before assembling the empanadas.

2. To assemble the empanadas, spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of a wrapper, making sure not to overstuff it or else the empanada will be difficult to seal. Top with some hard-boiled egg, a single olive, and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella. Using your finger, moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper in half so you have a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges of the wrapper together with your thumb and index finger to seal in the filling.

3. To finish, crimp with a fork, or try my mother’s more elegant design: With your thumb, pinch a small section of the edge over into the dough and repeat all around so you’re left with a sequence of rounded rainbows (see photo).

4. To fry the empanadas, pour about 2 inches vegetable oil into a medium pot. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on an instant-read thermometer.

5. Line a plate with paper towels. Working in batches of one or two, add the empanadas to the hot oil and deep-fry, turning them often with a frying spider or slotted spoon, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Although the fried empanadas will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator, they’re best eaten hot and fresh.

“Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House

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