In the streets of Algeciras and Cάdiz, in Spain, these sweet and tender, thin and lacy tortillitas, made from a perfectly seasoned batter studded with live, thin-shelled, shrimplike crustaceans called camarones (Palaemonetes varians), were once a simple street food. The shrimp were pulled up in nets in neighboring estuaries, dropped into a chickpea flour-based batter, fried in olive oil, and eaten hot. Today they are a popular tapa everywhere in Andalucia.
The mecca for this fritter, or tortillita, is no longer found in the streets but at the Los Remos Restaurant in San Roque, a ten-minute taxi ride away from the port of Algeciras. The back story here makes for a wonderful tale of raggedy fish fritters to riches: Alejandro Fernandez Gavilάn and his wife, Nati, used to run a beach bar along the river where Alejandro’s fisherman father caught and sold his catch of the day. Now, fifteen years later, Alejandro and Nati run their restaurant out of a Victorian villa, proving that their “street dishes,” such as this delicious fritter, are worthy of serving on a white tablecloth.
Here’s an adaptation of Nati’s recipe.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.