Papas Arrugadas - Gastro Obscura

Prepared Foods

Papas Arrugadas

These salty potatoes were originally boiled in seawater.

When visiting the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain located off the coast of northwest Africa, one must sample the local cuisine. There are similarities with Spanish food, with meat and fish in flavorful sauces and small tapas-like portions; however the islands do have several uniquely local specialties. Oddly enough, the islands’ signature dish is not some overly complicated display of cooking, but rather a simple potato recipe.

Papas arrugadas (literally “wrinkly potatoes”) are small, young potatoes that get cleaned (but not peeled), then cooked in salt water. Traditionally, this was seawater, but now some people use tap water with a very generous amount of salt. The salty environment sucks out most of the water from the potatoes as they boil, shrinking them in size and giving them their signature wrinkly skin. The process also leaves the inside of the potatoes quite dry, imparting a texture more like baked potatoes than boiled ones. Once the water has evaporated, the potatoes get covered by a thin layer of salt. They’re often served accompanied by an equally traditional and local sauce called mojo. This is made by mixing bell peppers, garlic, various spices, and a generous amount of oil. The potatoes can be eaten as a starter or a side. They can be found in almost any restaurant on the island. It is a uniquely Canarian dish that tastes great despite its seeming simplicity.

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