In Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines, an empanada (not to be confused with the Portuguese empada, which is a different dish) is essentially a stuffed pastry. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Usually the empanada is made by folding a thin circular shaped dough patty over the stuffing, creating its typical semicircular shape.
It is likely that the empanadas in the Americas were originally from Galicia, Spain, where an empanada is prepared similar to a pie that is cut in pieces, making it a portable and hearty meal for working people. The Galician empanada is usually prepared with cod fish or chicken. Due to the large number of Galician immigrants in Latin America, the empanada gallega has also become very popular in that region.