Popular Spanish tapas: Tortillita de camarones

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prawn tortillas

The Spanish food culture is as diverse as the country itself. So many regions, so many flavours. That is why every region has its own favourite tapa. And if there is one dish that embodies the essence of the province of Cádiz, it is the delicious prawn tortillas. They are crunchy, tasty and very easy to make.

The origins of this iconic dish even seem to lie in Genoa, Italy. Especially in bars in cities such as San Fernando, Cádiz or Sanlúcar de Barrameda, you can always order ‘tortillitas de camarones’. The delicious tapa combines wheat and chickpea flour with prawns, water, salt, spring onion and parsley and now has a special place in the traditional cuisine of the Cádiz region. The secret of its crispy texture and light taste lies in its eggless dough that absorbs less oil during frying.

Although prawn tortillas are eaten all year round, consumption noticeably increases during the carnival season. Then the culinary traditions of the region come to the fore and tortillitas de camarones become an indispensable part of the festivities.

Foreign origin

According to research conducted by Cádiz gastronome Manolo Ruiz Torres, the recipe for prawn tortillas could be up to 500 years old. The origin is said to be related to the dish ‘farinata’ from Genoa. This almost liquid dough made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper was not fried, but baked in the oven. According to Ruiz Torres, when the Genoese brought this dish to Cádiz, it merged with a similar dish made in Spain: the gachuelas, the predecessor of today’s fried dishes.

The first tortillitas in San Fernando

In the kitchens of Cádiz, the prawn tortillas are made both wafer-thin and slightly thicker. That’s since Catalina Pérez, the first owner of Venta de Vargas in San Fernando, put the first tortillita de camarones – which do not contain eggs – in the frying pan in 1935. Later it was her daughter-in-law, María Picardo, who refined the recipe and established it in its most recognisable form. Her family still runs the restaurant that once served as a retreat for the famous flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla.

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Prawn tortillas recipe

You can have the tortillitas de camarones on the table in 50 minutes. The following recipe is for 5 people.

Ingredients:

150 g raw prawns
100 g wheat flour
100 g chickpea flour
1 glass of water
1/2 spring onion
Parsley
Olive oil for frying
Salt to taste

Preparation of prawn tortillas:

In a large bowl, mix the wheat flour with the chickpea flour. Add the finely chopped parsley and spring onion. Then add the fresh prawns, previously cleaned and cut into small pieces. Then pour a glass of very cold water into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a whisk until a homogeneous and light dough. Let this dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that the flavours can blend well. Then heat a generous amount of mild olive oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot, use a spoon to add small portions of the dough to the pan. Cook each tortilla, once turned, until golden brown on both sides. After removing the tortillitas from the pan, drain them by placing them on paper towels. Serve the tortillas warm or at room temperature.

Celiacs, vegetarians or vegans can also make their own version of the tortillitas. For the first group, it would be sufficient to use chickpea flour. The other two groups can replace the prawns with vegetables.

Also read: Tapas districts in Spain you must visit

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