THESE DELICATE, CRISP FRITTERS ARE SERVED FRESH FROM THE DEEP-FRYER IN BARS ACROSS SOUTHERN SPAIN, BUT NOWHERE ARE THEY AS GOOD AS IN THE SEASIDE RESTAURANTS OF EL PUERTO DE SANTA MARÍA. HERE, AS ELSEWHERE, THEY ARE MADE WITH FRESH, WHOLE TINY PRAWNS (SHRIMP) NO BIGGER THAN YOUR LITTLE FINGERNAIL. IT’S THE COMBINATION OF SALTY SEA AIR, THE SMELL OF FRYING FRESH FISH AND GLASSES OF CHILLED SHERRY THAT ELEVATE THIS SIMPLE LITTLE FRITTER TO AN EXOTIC ART FORM. MADE WITH BESAN (CHICKPEA FLOUR, AVAILABLE FROM HEALTH FOOD STORES AND INDIAN SUPERMARKETS), THE BATTER IS SLIGHTLY RUNNY, ALLOWING IT TO SPREAD IN THE HOT OIL TO FORM A DELICATE PASTRY. USE BABY PRAWNS IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THEM, BUT AS THEY ARE NOT COMMON I HAVE ADAPTED THE TRADITIONAL RECIPE TO USE READILY AVAILABLE FRESH RAW PRAWNS. THESE FRITTERS ARE SLIGHTLY TRICKY TO GET THE HANG OF — IT MAY TAKE A FEW GOES TO PERFECT THE FRYING TECHNIQUE. THIS RECIPE WAS GIVEN TO ME BY LOCAL CHEF FERNANDO CÓRDOBA.
Place the prawn heads in a saucepan with the bay leaves, a pinch of salt and
Meanwhile, finely chop the prawns. When the stock comes to the boil, stir in the chopped prawns and cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
Sift the besan and plain flour into a bowl. Whisking continuously, gradually add the hot stock mixture to the flour mixture until a thin batter forms. Stir in the chopped herbs and leave the batter to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or wok to 190°C (375°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 10 seconds.
Working in batches, gently ladle
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