Tortillitas de camarones

These small deep-fried pancakes come from the Andalusian province of Cádiz and are a popular appetiser or snack there. They are prepared with a special type of prawn that is hard to find elsewhere. The camarones de Cádiz are very small, only about one centimetre long and are not peeled but used whole.

We cannot find such prawns at home, so we use larger prawns that we cut into pieces. It’s not the same, but it also produces a very tasty result.

You only need a few ingredients: Wheat and chickpea flour, spring onions, parsley and of course prawns. Plus water to make a simple batter. The only seasoning is salt and pepper, but we like to add a little piment d’Espelette or cayenne for a touch of heat. You can add a little turmeric for a nicer colour; in Spain, “Colorante” would be used here, a food colouring made from marigold flowers that can be found in almost every household.

The two types of flour are mixed with cold water using a fork to form a smooth, fairly liquid dough. Then the other ingredients are added and the flour is left to soak for 10 minutes.

During this time, the frying can be prepared. We like to use solid vegetable fat for this, which has a neutral flavour and can be heated to a high temperature. It also has the advantage that it solidifies again and is therefore easier to store for repeated use than oil. We always fry in a wok because its shape means that less fat is needed. For this dish, we only need 300 – 400 g of fat, which we then filter through a sieve and reuse.

The fat or oil must be heated to 190 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a suitable thermometer, test the temperature with a drop of batter. If it immediately bubbles and rises to the surface, it is hot enough. Stabilise the temperature by turning the heat down to medium to medium-high. The fat should never start to smoke.

Then pour a tablespoon of dough for one tortillita at a time into the hot fat, directly on the surface and carefully so that it does not splatter. The dough immediately spreads out flat.

After one minute, you turn the tortillita over and after another minute it is cooked. How brown and crispy you want them is up to you. We also experienced them very differently in Cádiz.

Using a slotted spoon, the tortillitas are placed on a few layers of kitchen paper to soak up any excess fat. If you use a wok or a tall pan with a large diameter like we do, you can prepare several at the same time.

Deep-fried food is very hot, so the prawn fritters need to cool down before they can be enjoyed. A few squeezes of lemon or lime and (almost inevitably) cold beer go very well with them.

Enjoy.

And may the taste be with you.

Ingredients (for 4 people as a starter or snack):

80 g wheat flour

70 g chickpea flour

200 ml cold water

1 tsp salt

Black pepper, or a pinch of Espelette pepper or cayenne to taste

Optional: a little turmeric or Spanish colorante alimentario

3 – 4 spring onions, the white finely chopped and the green cut into rings

3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

120 g prawns (very small and whole, alternatively peeled and cut into pieces)

Vegetable fat or neutral oil for frying

Lemon or lime

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