Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tortillitas de Camarones

This is an Andalusian tapas classic that we've eaten in Cala de Mijas and Cordoba among other places. Originally this hails form Cadiz. There are versions made of cod, too.

As much as I've been full of praise for those king prawns so readily (and cheaply!) available in Spain and slagged off the tiny ones as "unfit for human consumption" now the karma came and kicked me where it hurts the most.

See, the camarones shrimp used for this dish are so tiny they make those small pizza prawns look like bouncers at an Essex night club.

But they are hard to come by. They are used raw and unpeeled. Feel free to substitute them with the tiniest shrimp you can find - cut in half if needed. Because of the texture the end result won't be quite as crisp but according to the audience "just as good".

Some recipes call for saffron to lend the batter its golden hue. I feel saffron is too precious to waste on something like this - the yellow colour is supposed to come from chickpea flour, which in Spain is widely used for coating of the fried foods. As they're gluten-free, they make batters and coatings extra crisp. In this blog they've been previously used for those Fancier Fish & Chips we made for the Happy Joe contest.

Chickpea flour has a lot more protein than regular flour too. If you want, you can make the batter using just chickpea flour, but their flavour might not be everyone's cup of tea, so using a blend of chickpea flour and all purpose flour is fine.

They can be sourced at ethnic stores or you can make your own by grinding dried chickpeas in a coffee grinder into a fine flour and sieving  them to get rid of any lumps.

3,5 dl chickpea flour
(OR 2,5 dl chickpea flour + 1 dl all purpose flour)
3-3,5 dl ice cold water
200 g tiny shrimp
1/2 smallish onion or 1 small one
1 tl grated lemon zest
1 heaped tbs dried parsley (or twice the amount of chopped fresh parsley)

If using frozen prawns, thaw them  and pat dry. Mix the dry ingredients and add water. Mix quickly into a smooth batter and fold in shrimp and finely chopped onion. Let rest at room temperature for an hour.

Heat some oil in a pan (about 1 cm layer). Drop in tablespoons of batter and quickly spread it into a fritter as thin as possible - the tortillita should be practically see-through. As it starts colouring on the sides, flip it over and fry on the other side too. Drain on kitchen towel and serve immediately - the longer you keep them waiting the soggier they start to get.

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