How to Make Papas Arrugadas or Canarian Potatoes
Papas arrugadas. They may look as though they’re just potatoes with more wrinkles than Mick Jagger and a crusting of salt on the top but…No, hang on, it’s true. The recipe boils down (ho-ho!) to potatoes and, er, salt. Some daring souls throw in a splash of lemon juice but I suspect that’s because they feel embarrassed to list a “recipe” with only two ingredients.
Yet papas arrugadas, or wrinkled potatoes, taste better than they look.
The Story Behind Papas Arrugadas
When the Spanish conquistadores headed home from South America, they brought with them the humble potato and made a pit stop in the Canary Islands, just off the northwest coast of Africa. The islanders took these pebble-sized potatoes and invented this deceptively simple dish.
According to tradition, you cook the papas in saltwater instead of fresh, since freshwater is difficult to come by on a small volcanic island.
But it's not only the recipe that links to South America. It's the language too. In the Canary Islands, you'll hear the word papas for potatoes, rather than the patatas from mainland Spain.
What do papas arrugadas taste like?
If served well, papas arrugadas carry a hefty bite, with a surprisingly moreish sweet-salty tang. Served in earthenware dishes, the potatoes usually come with mojo – a spicy sauce made from peppers (mojo rojo) and coriander (mojo verde) respectively. Both include vinegar and a hint of garlic to bring the dish alive.
But how do you make these Canarian potatoes? Here comes the salted potatoes recipe that tastes better than it sounds...
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Or, there's always finding out about the difference between tapas and pintxos in San Sebastian.
Sobremesa - the time spent around the table after lunch or dinner, to savour both the friendship and the food in Spain.
How to Make Papas Arrugadas: The Recipe
The Canarian Wrinkly POtatoes REcipe - with Mojo
When it comes to a decent Canarian potatoes recipe, choose good quality small potatoes (bigger than new, smaller than baking.) For the completely authentic papas arrugadas con mojo experience, you'll need either papas negra from Tenerife or papas bonita from Gran Canaria.
But truthfully, any small potato will do. Even new potatoes are forgivable.
How to cook canarian potatoes:
- Put them in a pan, pour water on top but don’t cover them completely
- Throw in loads of salt (recipes vary from saltwater levels to several teaspoons. Experiment. Unless, of course, you have high blood pressure.)
- Boil away until they are soft when you pierce them with a knife
- Now for the tricky bit…drain away the water but continue cooking on a low heat until the skins wrinkle and salt crystals appear. Keep them moving otherwise they’ll burn...
- Take these gorgeous boiled salted potatoes and serve while still hot with cold mojo sauce. Salud!
Serve with Mojo Sauce
Pronounced MOh-ho, mojo is the best part of this whole papas arrugadas ensemble. It is the ginger, wasabi and soy equivalent to vegetable sushi.
In the Canary Islands, you'll hear people talk about mainly green mojo (mojo verde) and red mojo (mojo rojo), but in truth you'll find more flavours and mojo recipes than you'll have time to make in your lifetime.
Is it papas arrugadas or patatas arrugadas?
*Papas arrugadas also go by the name of papas arrugas or patatas arrugadas across the rest of Spain. Although, typically they are a Canarian potato dish. You'll even hear the variation papa arrugadas with a silent s in the first word. But the canarian potatoes recipe itself? That's pretty much always the same.
Most mojos are based on garlic, vinegar and olive oil, with red or green chilli, paprika, cumin and coriander mixed in.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can make your own by grinding the dry spices in a pestle and mortar and whisking together the rest with enough oil and vinegar in a blender. The consistency should by runnier than standard ketchup but not quite as loose as a French salad dressing.
Or, of course, the easier option is to buy a few jars of the stuff, either at the airport or by ordering mojo online when home.
The Food Guide to Tenerife
Check out our food guide to Tenerife as well!
More About Travel in the Canary Islands
There's more to those Canary Islands than just canarian potatoes. Don't forget you can go whale watching and visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in one day in Tenerife alone!
For more canarian recipes, dishes and restaurants to explore, check out our Tenerife Food Guide. Salud!
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