Sha balep are hugely popular stuffed pastry snacks from Tibet. Often filled with beef, garlic and sichaun pepper, they're eaten with soup for lunch or dinner, but can also make for a hearty breakfast
- Serves: 10 persons
- sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil), for deep frying
- 450g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tbsp sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil)
- 500g beef mince (15-20% fat)
- 2tbsp sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil)
- ½tsp sichuan peppercorns, crushed
- ½tsp ground coriander
- 1red onion, finely chopped
- 1garlic clove, finely chopped
- 50g spinach, washed and finely chopped
Step 1For the dough, put the flour and oil in a mixing bowl. Using your hand, start pinching together the oil and the flour, while slowly pouring in 200ml of warm water. Mix and then knead, adding just enough water to make a ball of dough. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
Step 2For the filling, put the beef, 1 tsp of fine sea salt and 1 tbsp of the oil into a bowl and mix. Add the peppercorns and coriander and stir well, followed by the onion, garlic and spinach. Heat the other tbsp of oil in a frying pan and, when it’s hot, cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes or until brown. Cool.
Step 3Sprinkle a little flour onto a worksurface. Loosely roll the dough into a sausage shape. Divide it evenly into eight pieces, then roll each piece into a ball. Working with one ball at a time, lightly flatten it with your hands and then roll it out with a rolling pin, pushing and pulling the dough up and down quickly and firmly. Use your other hand to hold the dough and turn it little by little as you go to create a 10-12cm circle, with the middle a little thicker than the edges.
Step 4Spoon 2-3 tbsp of the filling into the centre, then gently fold one side of the circle over the filling to meet the other side. Starting in the middle, use your fingertips to press the edges together, trying not to trap any air inside. Just before you completely seal the pasty, gently press down on it to release any remaining air and then close. Lift the joined edge up bit by bit, pressing it back into the pasty to seal it again. When you are confident it is well sealed, you can crimp the edge with your fingers or a fork.
Step 5To cook, pour a 7½cm depth of oil into a large wok or wide pan (make sure the pan is only filled a maximum of two thirds) and put over a medium-high heat. Alternatively, use a frying pan to shallow-fry the sha balep, turning them over halfway through, in which case you will only need a 2cm depth of oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, toss in a tiny scrap of dough – if it bubbles vigorously and rises quickly to the surface, it’s ready. Turn down the heat to low and slide in the sha balep, no more than four at a time. Use tongs to move them around and turn so they cook evenly. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, then drain before serving.