I introduce you to my new beer snack of choice - socca. We are loving this at the moment, I have been whipping up a plate of these almost every evening lately to have with an ice cold ale as they go perfectly together. No boring nuts or pretzels for us, puh-lease!
So what is socca? I'm sure most of you are asking as such, it's something that's only come into my radar recently, having seen it in a cookbook and a take on this version in the October issue of Irish Food and Wine magazine. Apparently it's French street food, particularly from Nice and despite variations it's basic ingredients are chickpea flour and olive oil. It's like a soft, thin pancake and I've seen images of it thinner than this and thicker, so do what you like. It's also traditionally served warm with lots of black pepper and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Wikipedia has a nice entry on it, just scroll down to France for the socca version.
I've changed the way I cook mine a few times now and am pleased with this version. Socca, by nature, sticks like mad to the pan. The impression I get in France is that they use very well seasoned copper pans and a wood burning oven, techniques us average home cooks simply cannot recreate. So my primary concern was to get all that yummy socca off the pan and not worry so much about authenticity, after all, I've never even had socca before! So to combat that I now line a baking sheet with baking paper, pour the batter on, thin it out with a pallette knife then bake. The baking paper ensures that all the socca comes off and is so much less stressful. Is it traditional? Probably not, but then again, neither is being vegan and we're cool with that, right? :-)
Chilli and Rosemary Socca - serves 2 as a light snack
100g chickpea flour - also called gram flour, garbanzo bean flour or besan
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp finely ground smoked sea salt, or plain sea salt*
1/8 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150ml hot water
more olive oil to serve
finely ground black pepper to serve
*a note on the salt, I use smoked sea salt flakes then grind them up in a mortar and pestle until fine. You can just use regular sea salt but if you use table salt I would suggest reducing this to 3/4 tsp. As the hand ground salt does not get as fine as table salt less would end up in the measuring spoon and a full tsp of table salt would probably be too much.*
Preheat the oven to 190C fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. In a mixing bowl sift in the chickpea flour and add the salt, rosemary and chilli flakes. Whisk together. In a pyrex measuring dish measure out the hot water, just boiling, and add the olive oil. Give it a stir then add to the flour and whisk until smooth and slightly thick. Just a warning here, it won't smell nice here, nor will it taste nice, but I assure you it bakes up completely differently than it smells and tastes at this stage - trust me!
Scrape this onto the middle of your prepared sheet with a rubber spatula:
Now spread this out slightly with a pallette knife. I have cooked this thicker than this and enjoyed it both ways, just find the thickness you like and go with it.
Now pop it into the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes. It will be firm to the touch and just starting to crack on top, the edges might just start to brown slightly too, although the socca itself is soft.