Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.
So… remember the Daring Cook challenges? That tasty once-a-month cooking bandwagon that I fell off pretty much exactly one year ago? Ahem. Well, sometime in the middle of all the February madness *, I logged into their fora again and decided to jump back in.
* It is a well-documented fact that whenever I feel overwhelmed by everything around me, I will react by starting new projects. Yes, plural. Stupid? Yes. True? Also, yes. It could well be that this is why I spent February…
a) swamped at work
b) freaking out about The Boy’s birthday / birthday present
c) knitting a baby sweater for a coworker’s no-longer-newborn
d) freaking out about my upcoming costume party
e) knitting the long-awaited second Bellatrix sock
f) freaking out about the fact that I was way behind on Casey’s sew-along to make the costume for above costume party
g) watching (or re-watching in his case) all of Babylon 5 with The Boy
h) freaking out about the seeds which hadn’t yet arrived in the mail that were due to be started that weekend
i) completing and blogging a Daring Cooks challenge 2.5 weeks early.
Which brings us back to late February when I actually completed the challenge. I made the papas rellenas the day after I twisted my ankle at volleyball, a day when The Boy ordered me to stay home rather than aggravate the injury by hobbling up and down stairs for 8 hours between an office and datacenter. Turns out, it was the right decision for my ankle and the extra time at home gave me enough of a lead on making dinner to undertake the challenge.
The papas were tasty, but very work-intensive. Would I make them again? Maybe. I’d do it for a larger group of people (with a deep fryer), but probably not just for the two us. As with most breaded, deep-fried foods, there’s something of an economy of scale involved. Basically, given the pain-the-assness of breading and stovetop-frying the papas, the effort outweighed the tastiness.
That’s a pretty negative final verdict for what was overall a very tasty dinner, though. I paired up the papas and salsa with sweet potatoes and that well-known Peruvian green… bok choi. The salsa recipe was included in the challenge. It’s a delicious, bitey onion salsa that I am very happy to have discovered. Read on for the recipes and my comments.
For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg
For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef
6 black olives, pitted and chopped — omitted because The Boy and I both hate olives, though I might use capers next time
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped — way too many eggs; 2 at most
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
½ cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (sub jalapeño or other pepper if you prefer)
2 cloves garlic, minced — I would up this to 3 or 4 cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste
For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
Oil for frying (enough for 2” in a heavy pan)
For the dough:
- Boil the potatoes until soft. Remove them from the water and cool.
- Once cool, peel and rice them.
- Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.
While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
- Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
- Add ground beef and brown.
- Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
- Deglaze the pan with white wine.
- Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
- Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
- Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”
Forming and frying the papas:
- Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
- Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
- Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
- Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C).
- Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
- Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
- Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) oven if frying in batches.
- Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.
Personally, I found that there was too much filling for the potato for this. I had a little under a quarter of the filling left, which would probably be helped by using less hard-boiled egg (seriously, this recipe has 5 eggs in it). I also found the papas sticky and hard to form. What I’d do differently next time is rice the potatoes onto a baking sheet while they’re hot, and let the steam out to reduce moisture. Alternately, I’d add a bit of flour (just a spoonful or so) to the “dough”.
2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
1/2 chili pepper (your preference)
1 tablespoon vinegar
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the onions in cold salt water for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain.
- In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the onions to macerate and the flavors to combine.
So, uh, I misread this and only used one onion and I ran out of lime juice. Let me tell you, even with that, it was awesome. I don’t even think I’d go back and correct it if I were making it again. This salsa has kick! I don’t know if I’ll remember it, but it would go well with any milder-flavoured meaty or starchy dish.
So what of the ceviche? Despite my good intentions to make that later, the stars aligned to have me run out of lime juice, and be unable to purchase limes (or lime juice) for the next three weeks. (I still haven’t found limes I’m happy with.) Also: things exploded a little, and I just didn’t get it done. I might try it in the next week or so but probably not; the ceviche I would most want to make would be squid and The Boy has often shared his opinion of my tentacle consumption (summary: “eww”). Ah well, maybe while he’s out of town sometime.