Chef Fig’s Belizean Panades

Chef Fig’s Belizean Panades

Panades are similar to empanadas except they are fried corn, not wheat flour. In Belize, Panades are usually made with a fish hash inside. Oftentimes, it’s made with shark and less desirable fish. Sometimes they are even made with canned tuna fish. They are also made with refried beans. My mother made these for us growing up, now my wife and I make them for family and friends. It’s the ultimate Belizean street food and without a doubt one of the finest Belizean bites you can have. Panades are served with Curtido or onion sauce. Habanero peppers, salt, onions and vinegar make up this spicy sauce that you have to have to eat these properly. Be sure to double or triple this recipe because once you taste them, a dozen will not do.
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Created by: Chef Fig


Main Ingredients

  • 3 mahi-mahi fillet
  • ½ White onion finely diced
  • ½ cup cilantro finely diced
  • 3 cups garlic finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Melinda’s XXXtra Hot Habanero Pepper Sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp achiote powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more

Masa blend ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina (I love the organic King Arthur Masa)
  • 1 tbsp achiote powder
  • cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • vegetable oil for frying (peanut oil is best)

Curtido (onion sauce) ingredients

  • 1 white onion diced
  • 3-4 habanero peppers finely diced
  • 1 cup or more white distilled vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt


Curtido instructions:

  • Place diced onions, peppers and salt in a serving bowl or mason jar, fill with vinegar level to the top of the onion mixture. Allow mixture to sit at room temp or refrigerated for 30 minutes prior to serving. These onions are essential for Panades. 

Panades instructions:

  • Season fish fillets with salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and achiote powder. Pan sear or fry the fillets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 3 minutes per side, remove and reserve fish fillets in a bowl, allow them to cool to touch. Then break up the fish into smaller pieces for hashing. 
  • Sauté onions, garlic, cilantro in the same pan as the fish until the onions are translucent. Add chopped fish to the pan and add a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder and 1 teaspoon of achiote powder and mix. Allow to cook on medium heat for a few more minutes and then scape the pan contents into a bowl.
  • This is the hashed fish mixture that will go inside the panades.
  • Mix the Masa Harina with achiote, salt, vegetable oil and add water while mixing. Knead the mixture in the bowl until it forms a ball. If it is wet, sprinkle a little more Masa. Allow dough ball to rest covered for 20-30 mins. 
  • Now make golf ball size balls (10-12) from the dough ball. Press each ball flat using a tortilla press. Hold the flattened dough flat in your hand and add a tablespoon of the fish mixture to the center. Now gently fold the tortilla over in half and pinch the edges to seal the panades contents, set aside on a towel and continue to make the rest.
  • Heat 3-4 inches of oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch over or use a deep fryer. Heat oil to 325 degrees. Gently add the panades to the oil 5 to 6 at a time and fry for approximately 4 mins. Remove from oil and drain on a rack or paper towels. 
  • Serve with curtido (onion sauce) and hot sauce. You can also make these with refried beans instead of the fish hash.