A little backgrounder...
In the late 90's early 2000's I was introduced to a chickeny flavored fritter. I was, at the very least, blown away when I was told I was eating black eye peas! I had no idea you could make texture-rich dishes, finger foods and appetizers armed with little more than black eye peas, seasoning and a skillet. The black eye pea, garbanzo bean, fava bean and several other beans/legumes have been my latest intrigue.
Akkras [bean fritters] are AMAZING discoveries and their process couldn't be simpler and more straightforward!
- Proper soaking time
- Proper re-soaking time
- Good additives
When you initially soak your black eye peas, start out with pure water and enough room for the beans to expand in that water. For this I use a covered stainless steel mixing bowl or a covered glass mixing bowl. [note: *For food safety reasons, make sure when you soak your peas, it's in the refrigerator or a 'refrigerator cold' area. You want to make sure you cut down on the potential of fermentation and possible spoilage.] Soak the peas for 6 - 8 hours, drain, rinse and rub off all of the skins from the beans. Although the latter is optional, it's necessary if you’re looking for that golden brown color on your fritters after they're cooked. The draining and rinsing helps to remove the indigestible sugars that usually result in gas produced from eating beans and peas.
PROPER RE-SOAKING TIME
Here's one of the keys: Re-Soaking. You want to immediately re-soak your peas for another 2 hours to remove any last indigestible sugars and ready them for processing. After re-soaking, rub the peas in your hands, while they're still submerged, to get any remaining skin, dirt or debris off of them. Now you can either put them in a container in the fridge if you're not ready to start processing them or you can go to the next step and get your process going.
Here's where the fun begins. You can make these taste, literally, however you want. They can have a Mediterranean look, feel and flavor with all of their exotic spices, or they can be regional American cuisine, with very familiar, yet understated, nuances or they can be anything in between. They're only limited by your imagination. The main things you'll want to look for is the consistency, moisture content, flavor and, for some, color. If you're working with a particular theme for the festivities, you may not necessarily want golden brown fritters, you may want green or red, etc., so, figure on that and match your additives to meet your overall objectives.
Here are some of the additives I love working with while making akkras:
- caramelized shallots or onions
- fresh chopped herbs like: dill weed, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, arugula, chives
- chopped garlic
- spices like: fennel seeds, dill seed, cumin seeds, black cardamom
There's nothing like working with fresh herbs and spices. If you don't go through them quick enough they can lose their kick, so buy smaller amounts to make sure you use them up within, at least 6 months from your purchase date. Your diners will thank you for it. [Those thank yous will come in the form of cleaned plates at dinner time.] So ask your spice store a couple of questions: How often they get their herbs and spices in. If they have a fast turnover, that's a good indication of fresher product and you'll have a better chance of getting the best stuff.
As always, it's my pleasure sharing these ideas with you. Until next time...