Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chickpea Flour Extravaganza, Pt. 2: Socca (Farinata)

Did you know that chickpea flour can be used as an egg substitute or to replace binding agents in pastry? To replace one egg, just combine 1 tablespoon flour with one tablespoon water. Apparently vegans do this with great success. I bet you also didn't know that calentita, a dish made of chickpea flour, is the national dish of Gibraltar. Or that in South Africa, they're particularly fond of dhaltjies, chickpea chili fritters.**

So, you see, chickpea flour isn't all about flatbreads, even though it's a main ingredient in roti, paratha, chapati, puda, calentita, farinata, and of course, socca. It's also about thickening/binding agents and fritters. Lots and lots of fritters. So much so that pakora will be featured in my next installment. But first, the flatbread.

In the first post of this series, I mentioned that both Nice and Genoa boast street food that amounts to what is essentially a chickpea crepe or flatbread.  There is some disagreement as to  exactly what is the difference between the two dishes. Many people appear to use the recipes and names interchangeably, while others maintain the two are distinguishable. I don't think there's a definitive answer--especially for us non-locals--but let's take a quick look at how the two regions distinguish between their chickpea flour and olive oil concoctions. Nice's socca is allegedly on the thinner side with a thickness more akin to a crepe. It is also served with freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. On the other hand, Genoa's farinata is slightly thicker (much like mine), and may be laced with onion or rosemary.  The thing is,  regions that have been heavily influenced by French and Italian cultures have  put their own spin on the flatbread, meaning there is no correct way to eat it.  I personally think the Argentinians win for originality, as they put it on pizza. Regardless of how you want to dress the dish up (or down), the outcome makes a nice snack that is a little different from what most of us are used to. In fact, I think my wedges would have gone nicely with some goat cheese or the caramelized leeks I planned to make. Or both. On that front, look at how pretty these leek sticks are:

This one reminds me of those McDonald's french fry pictures.

Pretty, but inedible. I started to cook them up only to spit them out when tasting for flavor. My leek was horribly bitter despite looking fine. All was well, though, as David Lebovitz's recipe  for homemade socca stood well on its own.

**Also, while I still prefer to eat my food, if you'd like to try wearing yours, check out this site.  Though, I'd be careful with the turmeric mask if you're as pale as I am--I'd hate to see what it did to your face considering it makes my hands yellow. 

Tips for David's Recipe
1. Whisk. Chickpea flour absorbs liquid much quicker than wheat flour, so mix quickly and use a whisk to break up the clumps.  

2. If using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, don't add much in the way of extra oil. While the top of your socca will be nicely cooked, the underside will be undercooked and slightly mushy. If this happens, flip your crepe and place it back under the broiler for a few more minutes.

This is what it looks like when done (I don't like charred pieces of anything, btw). Ignore the blue light. 
I have no clue whatsoever what that's all about. Maybe the oven emits neon blue light.

3. Always serve warm. If you need to reheat, cut into wedges and place in sprayed frying pan. This made the outside even crispier. 


MaryMoh said...

Thanks for sharing info about the chickpea, especially how to substitute egg. hat's awesome. Love the chickpea wedges. Looks delicious.

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Kathy Gori said...

I love chickpea flour, known in Indian cooking as gram, and didn't know about using it in pastry as a binding agent. Thanks for this great information.

julie said...

I've never tried chickpea flour before. This looks really good!

Anna said...

I didn't know that about chickpea flour, That's great. It looks yummy.


I've never heard of that! Actually I don't think I've never even bought chickpea flour. I'd love to give this a try!

ann said...

I made socca with chickpea flour, water, oil and spices. I let the batter reast about 3 hrs at room temp. The socca pancake broke apart in the frying pan...exactly why I do not know...are you sure you don't need an egg for binding agent?

Baking Barrister said...

@ann - I'm positive. I don't know what happened, but maybe David (at the recipe's link) would know? He seems to make these quite often.

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