Tuna Fish Turnovers

Ekan Kotoku

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    2 dozen


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

“Meat pies” commonly refers to turnovers filled with a meat, fish, or other filling and are popular appetizers/snacks/street foods in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. The filling may include items ranging from canned corned beef to leftover fish to cooked meat or ground beef or even vegetables.

Here is a family-favorite (and easy) version. It is lighter than those often served in Ghana. Double this recipe to make party snacks or to take to community or school functions. Our family eats the turnovers as a light supper or a portable make-ahead picnic lunch, accompanied by a salad or side vegetable and fruit. Fish turnovers are mildly reminiscent of Indian or East African samosas or sambusas, which are deep-fried rather than baked.


Ingredients Filling

  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 dashes dried ground red pepper (just a little—these are generally not spicy)
  • ½ cup canned tuna fish in water, drained (or flaked leftover cooked tuna fish)
  • 1 hardboiled egg, peeled and mashed with fork


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out pastry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup shortening
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons cold water



Prepare filling

  1. Melt the margarine or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes. Then turn the heat to low and stir in 2 tablespoons water, the tomato paste, flour, salt, and ground red pepper. Flake the tuna fish and stir into the sauce along with the mashed egg. Cook for 2 minutes then set the pan aside to prepare the pastry.

Prepare pastry

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands, cut the shortening into the flour until it is in pieces the size of small peas.
  2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cold water over part of the flour mixture, then gently mix it and push it to the side with a fork. Continue to add the cold water in the same manner until all the pastry is moistened. Dust your hands with flour and form the dough into two balls.
  3. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour then roll out one of the balls (cover the other ball and/or put it in the refrigerator while working), moving from the center to the edges until it is between 1/8 inch and ¼ inch thick. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little more water and if it is too sticky, add a little more flour. (I prefer dough rolled out closer to 1/8 inch—it is lighter and will also make more turnovers.)
  4. Using a biscuit cutter or glass (or even a knife), cut the dough into circles about 3 inches in diameter and place them on a cookie sheet. Reserve the scraps of dough. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
  5. Collect the reserved scraps of dough from the first and second balls together and form into another ball, and roll it out and cut out more circles. (Only use the scraps once, if you do this a third time your dough will become tough.)

Prepare turnovers

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fill a small glass or bowl with water. Put a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of a circle. Dip your finger into the water and moisten the edges, then fold the pastry over to form a half circle. Dip a fork in flour, then crimp around the edges of the turnover to seal it well. Prick the top several times with the fork so steam can escape. Place on a large baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough and filling is used.
  3. Bake turnovers for about 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes) or until they are crisp and golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store refrigerated in an airtight container. They also freeze well.


The turnovers can be made in other shapes and sizes by cutting larger or smaller circles or squares to form the turnovers into triangles. Smaller circles make nice appetizers.