The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Kids Make Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

January 8th, 2010 · No Comments · Posted in Ethnic, kids, Recipes

A ridiculously easy snack from West Arica

A ridiculously easy snack from West Arica

Every food culture has its signature fritter, a deep-fried package with a crispy exterior that yields to something suprisingly delicious on the inside. In West Africa, where our food appreciation classes are visiting on their virtual world food tour, fritters are made from one of the area’s favorite ingredients: black-eyed peas. This particular fritter is ridiculously easy (it has only four ingredients) and if you are allergic to wheat, you’ll be happy to hear that no flour is involved.

That seems hardly possible, but it’s true: a fritter with no flour. Somehow the black-eyed peas, which aren’t even cooked, manage to hold together with onion, red pepper and a seasoning of salt. It helps to have an electric deep-fryer–this is one appliance that we use a lot. But you can do the frying in a deep pot as well. Just remember never to fill the pot more than halfway with oil to prevent it boiling over.

The real focus of this recipe, taken from an excellent cookbook, South of the Sahara, is the processing of the black-eyed peas. These are common in Southern cuisine here in the U.S., no doubt because of links back to Africa. They grow easily in our garden here in the District of Columbia. and are a good source of inexpensive protein purchased at the store.

These fritters are made over the course of two day. First soak 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas in a bowl with plenty of water overnight. Then drain the peas and procede to remove the skins. We did this in batches by gently pounding the peas at the bottom of a bowl with a potato masher just enough to crack the skins. Then cover the beans with water again and rub them together several times between your hands. The friction of the beans against each other helps loosen the skins.

You can now skim the skins out of the water with a strainer. Or drain the beans in a colander and pick out the skins. We chose the latter method. The kids had no trouble at all picking out all the skins with their fingers. I doubt that any of them had ever done anything like this before, but it gives them a good idea what food preparation is like in developing countries.

We typically shun electric gadgets in our food appreciation classes in favor of hand tools. But short of a giant mortar and pestle that I don’t own at the moment, I could not think of a way to turn our raw black-eyed peas into a puree without a food processor. So scrape all the skinned peas into your processor and add 2 onions, chopped; 1 mildly hot red pepper (such as a ripe jalapeno), seeds and veins removed, then chopped fine; and 1 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. The mix will appear dry at first, not wanting to separate from the sides of the processing bowl, but not to worry: there’s enough liquid in the onion. Just keep the motor going until everything falls together.

Cover the batter and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to cook the fritters, heat your oil (we used canola oil) to 320 degrees. Using a tablespoon, add scoops of batter to the oil and fry to a golden brown. You will probably need to turn them once, which is pretty simple: just give the fritters a little poke on one side with your spoon so that they flip over.

Drain on paper towels and serve, either warm or at room temperature. They are delicious, but everyone who tasted them seemed to make the same observation: they need some kind of sauce. That I will leave up to you, but you might consider something with tomato, onion, garlic, hot peppers and ginger. That would be most African.

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