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* (wrinkled potatoes) taste better than they look.
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.
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.
I was sceptical at first – but now I’m hooked.
Choose good quality small potatoes (bigger than new, smaller than baking)
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 until the skins wrinkle and salt crystals appear. Keep them moving otherwise they’ll burn…
As for finding your mojo (groan – Ed.) – you’ll have to wait for another post. Or buy some.
*Papas arrugadas also go by the name of papas arrugas or patatas arrugadas across the rest of Spain.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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