Water, Water Everywhere, So Why Not Make Potatoes?

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Water, Water Everywhere, So Why Not Make Potatoes?

A cat on a straw roof.

How many of us have had a delicious meal whilst on holiday, have thanked the waiting staff, and commented on how nice the food was? (Hopefully all of you.)

But how about talking to the chefs instead?

They're often the unsung heroes, toiling behind the scenes, in an inferno of heat, to produce your vacation food, hardly ever receiving the praise they truly deserve!

I've become a big fan of simple, rustic Mediterranean dishes over the years, we try to choose places where the locals eat, and always try to drag a cook or two out of the kitchens, to both thank them, and try and steal an easy but authentic recipe or two.

Here's one I was kindly given last week, that's delicious, cheap, and simple to prepare.

Papas arrugadas (literally wrinkly potatoes) with mojo verde and mojo rojo.

These wrinkly, salty-skinned potatoes were traditionally cooked in sea water, 'Papas' being the native Canario name given to the new-fangled food we call potatoes, introduced in the 1500s by the Spanish and Portuguese. As the sea water evaporated, the papas turned wrinkly and developed a beautifully savoury crust.

Nowadays they use the fantastic, locally produced salt, although the sea is still probably clean enough to cook with there!

Still a favourite in restaurants throughout the Canary Islands, this is an easy version to try at home, but with no beach bucket necessary!

Papas arrugadas

You will need:

  • 2lb new potatoes (Jersey in UK, or any similar small variety will do if you can't get Papa Negra or Papa Bonita)
  • 4 or 5 tbsp coarse Sea Salt (about 1/4 cup)
  • Water to cover.

Wash potatoes but do not peel. Add to a heavy pan and add salt and enough water to just cover. Then bring to boil and cook until softened (tip of a knife should easily slide through.) around 10 to 15 mins depending on size.

Drain water and return pan with drained potatoes to a medium heat, allowing any water and steam to evaporate, keep an eye on potatoes to avoid any sticking to pan.

You will see the skins wrinkling and a light salt crust forming. That's it!

Transfer to a terracotta dish (cazuaela) this will apparently stop any moisture spoiling your deliciously salty, wrinkly papas.

(Before I get comments from culinary-minded readers - this is a quick and easy version, for the more adventurous cooks there are much more traditional methods available!)

The Papas will (apparently - I've never had any left over! - keep in a fridge, tightly wrapped, for a few days.

Serve with these delicious, no-cook, easy sauces!

Mojo rojo. Red Spicy Sauce

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped.
  • 1 or 3 or 4 red chilli peppers, depending on taste! (For a milder sauce remove seeds. For Post Editors, substitute chilli for red sweet capsicum.)
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic depending on size.
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (don't use extra virgin as the taste will overpower sauce)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Make a paste from peppers, chillies, salt and garlic. Use a stick blender, or for a workout, use a mortar and pestle.

Gradually stir in olive oil to get a thick sauce consistency, add 1 or 2 spoons of vinegar to loosen.

Mojo verde. Green Tangy Sauce

  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp coarse ground cumin
  • 1 bunch coriander (Cilantro)
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Salt to taste

Prepare exactly as mojo rojo.

Spoon the mojo over the Papas and enjoy!

If, by some kind of fluke, or in a show of supreme willpower, there is any sauce left, or you make a bigger batch, it can be stored in a clean, sealed jar in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.

Do not add water to thin, the mojo will not keep!

As well as being a great sauce heated up alongside barbequed food, your mojo can also be used as a cold dip, or a flavourful marinade for meat, fish, or veg.

Once you have the base sauces, do try experimenting with other ingredients - just don't tell the Canarios!

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