Most of us spend much of our lives trying to avoid wrinkles, but here in the Canary Islands, there are some wrinkles that you just can’t resist and they are known as Papas Arrugadas or wrinkly potatoes.
These small yet moreish potatoes can be found on pretty much every menu here in the Fuerteventura. They are popular across all of the Canary Islands and are usually consumed on their own as a snack, as an accompaniment to Canarian tapas or alongside fish and meat dishes when served as a main. Papas Arrugadas are simple, salty tatties which have become an integral part of Canarian cuisine.
Papas Arrugadas will usually arrive at your table simply served in a little terracotta bowl, especially if you are sitting in a tapas bar or enjoying a few glasses of wine by the ocean. However, if you find yourself in one of the amazing fish or steak restaurants during the evening, then you are more likely to have the papas arrugadas served on the side of your plate as an accompaniment to your sea bream or solomilo. They are a staple of Canarian cuisine and are often used and served as the Brits would use fries or chips. However, in my opinion….Papas Arrugadas will always be my first choice. Although some people enjoy eating them just as they are with only the salt for flavouring, the more common way to enjoy them is smothered or dipped in the local Canarian sauces known as Mojo’s.
There are two main mojos: a red one called Mojo picón or Mojo Rojo (which is roughly pronounced Mocko Rocko) and is made with peppers or chili peppers, such as cayenne, which give the sauce a hit of heat. The reason it is sometimes called ‘picón’ on the menu is because it means spicy and the level of intensity can vary from restaurant to restaurant. The other mojo is green and much cooler than its bright red cousin. This mojo is made from cilantro, or coriander as we know it, and gives the potatoes a smooth, freshness to them which works exceptionally well with heavier dishes such as meats and fish main meals.
The Other One
Although technically not a mojo and not actually Canarian, sometimes you will find yourself presented with three little dishes of salsa, not just two. This third one is white and creamy and comes from mainland Spain. It is known as Alioli, which means garlic and oil in Catalan, and is not to be confused with the french Aioli which is made in a similar way but uses eggs – so it is more of a mayonnaise. This very traditional Spanish sauce dates back through history and is a delicious, garlicky creation which is simply made with oil and garlic and a lot of elbow grease to get it to turn nice and creamy in the mortar and pestle. It is strong, slightly hot ( depending on how much garlic you add ) and goes particularly well with papas arrugadas or freshly baked bread.
To make your own wrinkly potatoes at home, you need to pick up a bag of the little potatoes that are available in all supermarkets across the island. However, If you are trying to recreate this somewhere else in the world and don’t have access to the Canarian potatoes, then don’t fret as small, round King Edwards work just as well. The potatoes which you will find in Fuerteventura are not the same as the ones found on mainland Spain. They are much smaller and very different in their consistency because they are a South American type of Tuber which possibly found its way to the Canaries due to the seafaring folk of the past. They were cultivated on the islands and quickly became a staple food in Canarian cuisine. These little potatoes work particularly well as wrinkly potatoes, due to the thickness of their skin and luckily one of their relatives is known as ‘papa chinegu’ which, when loosely translated, refers to King Edward potatoes.
PAPAS ARRUGADAS RECIPE
PREPARATION TIME: 15 Mins
• 1kg of small potatoes ( papas bonitas)
• 4-6 cups of water
• 2 handfuls of coarse sea salt
Clean the potatoes thoroughly but make sure you leave the skin intact as this is where all the texture comes from. Next, take a large pan and add in all the water and salt. If you want to go really traditional, then sea water is the way to go, but to keep things simple, just make sure that there is enough salt water to cover all the potatoes. Boil them for around 10 minutes or until they are cooked. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes). once the potatoes begin to soften you can move on to the next step.
Pot Or Pan?
Some people prefer to leave just a tiny amount of water in the bottom of the pan and place a lid on top. They then shake the covered potatoes over the heat and allow the steam to complete the cooking process. This method causes the skins to wrinkle and leaves that characteristic salty residue that we all crave. The other method is to place the boiled potatoes in a terracotta dish and pop them in the oven for 5 minutes. This causes the skins to wrinkle too, but you don’t get as much salt on the outer skin. However, this method does make the skins a little crunchier, so the choice is up to your personal preference. Either way, once they are cooked, wrap them in a cloth and keep them warm until you are ready to serve.
Now that you have your potatoes ready to go, you are going to need the Mojo’s to go with them and maybe a few tapas dishes too. Luckily, we have included both. For the mojo recipes or Alioli, just click here and if you want some simple Canarian Tapas recipes, then here are some of the more popular ones for you.