tortillita de camarones

JM, you’ve outdone yourself:

I adapted this recipe from Mark Bittman’s version, which does not use eggs. I tuned out when he got to the part about salt (if he even got there at all: sometimes Bittman is a wild card when it comes to the particulars of seasoning), because about halfway through reading any recipe I always get super cocky and think, yeah, I got this, I am all over this — and then end up leaving out something really important. So below is sort of an aspirational edition of my own recipe, including some fine-tuning that didn’t actually happen IRL (I just learned that acronym yesterday), because it actually turned out extremely well, despite needing more salt and more shrimp. The texture is, like, wow. Try it, you’ll see.

Tortillita de Camarones

Ingredients:
-1/2 cup chickpea flour
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1 egg
-1 bunch scallions, with the light green and white parts chopped thin (and the dark green parts discarded in the ecologically-sound manner of your choice)
-2/3 cup chopped raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined (a shout-out to my dad here, who taught me how to de-vein shrimp when I was a kid — Pops, this has made me look like an expert in the kitchen more than once, so thank you)
-1 1/2 tbs chopped chives
-1/2 tbs thyme leaves
-2 tsp salt
-1/2-1 tsp freshly ground pepper
-2-3 tbs olive oil

Before we get started here, it may be useful to know that what you’re ultimately going for, texture- and shape-wise, is a cross between a Chinese scallion pancake and a frittata. So you’ll need a medium to large non-stick pan, preferably with a cover, to make this work. Also have two sturdy spatulas handy for flipping, though the critical part of that step (and JM knows this) is that NO ONE CAN BE WATCHING. If there are witnesses, the tortillita chromosome will split, and you’ll end up with two half-moon, busted, amateur tortillitas instead of the real mccoy.

Mix your chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder in a large-ish bowl. Now add your egg and about a cup of cool water, stirring well. Add the seafood, scallions, thyme, and a tablespoon of the chives. Now put your pan over medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, spread it around the bottom as best you can (non-stick pans are such a doozy when it comes to oil slick evenness), and pour the batter into the center of the pan. You’ll probably want to use a wooden spoon to distribute the shrimp and scallions more evenly, spreading them out to the edge, but be gentle, and don’t be too much of a perfectionist, or else your kitchen habits will just confirm that you need therapy (and by “you” I mean “I”). Pretend like it’s no big deal: some shrimp over here, some scallion over there. No, it’s not going to make it on to the cover of Bon Appétit, but your plan is to actually eat it, not wear it as arm candy to an afterparty.

At this point I covered it to help it set, because I’m touchy when it comes to flipping large food items and need all the help I can get. Let it cook and set for about three or four minutes, then take off the cover and do whatever you need to do to flip the thing in one piece and not shatter it. No one’s judging you, no one’s watching (I warned you about this above, remember? NO ONE CAN BE WATCHING!), so say your incantation and do whatever stretches you need to do. Once it’s flipped, let it cook uncovered for another two or three minutes.

Take a plate that’s about the size of the tortillita or the pan and put it, face-down, on top. Put on your oven mitts and, with the firm tenderness of a parent pulling a splinter out of their child’s toe, flip over the whole outfit in one swift motion. If you’ve done this correctly, you will have a bee-yoo-tee-full tortillita on the plate, an empty pan, and unburned fingers. If you’ve done it incorrectly, by reading this you have agreed that you will not hold me, secret menu, JM, or any of our affiliates responsible for any property damages, injury, or loss of appetite that may occur.

Anyway, uh, throw the rest of those chopped chives on the top and serve it up. I know that shrimp is the traditional centerpiece here but I can imagine any kind of seafood, or even root veggies, being just as fantastic. Bittman’s recipe said that this serves four people. Not even close. It serves about one and a half people. It would have just been one, but I was being polite to JM. He did, after all, take a really gorgeous photo.

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