To banish the Winter blues and escape to the French West Indies at least during the time of a meal, Virginie and I did a few “accras” for a charity event at my local health club. This took the shape of a cookery class for those members adventurous enough to join us.
The choice of accras was an obvious one as they are one of my favourite dishes from Martinique and Guadeloupe and a classic of French West Indian cuisine.
To be plunged into a proper West Indian ambience, you need a good rum punch and some “zouk” music. More later about how to make a “Planteur” (rum punch) or a “Ti Punch”.
I first learnt to make Accras in Martinique and the recipe I was given by a lovely lady called Marie is for 40 people. At the time, I thought I would always have to reduce the quantities but it proved to be useful when two years ago I made some for a large wedding party.
So what makes those accras so attractive? First of all, they are very tasty and go very well with a rum punch. Secondly, you can choose to eat them as appetizers, as in the West Indies, or as a main course, served with a salad. You may even take them on a picnic or in lunch box or even as a snack. They freeze well and this helps when you want to plan for a party.
Now, here is how to make them:
2 chunks of salt cod, desalted overnight * if you use unsalted cod, add a little salt
1large onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small chilli pepper and Cayenne pepper
500ml of oil
Pancake mixture with a few drops of beer to make it fluffier
1. Steam the fish with the sliced onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Drain and separate the flesh with a fork. Remove the bones and the skin.
2. Add the parsley, pepper and chilli.
3. Fold into the pancake mixture.
4. Use a teaspoon to shape the mixture into small balls and deep fry for 3 minutes until golden.
5. Remove from heat and place on kitchen roll to absorb excess fat.
This Christmas we decided to have some as appetizers before our lunch, instead of the anchoïade and tapenades I normally do and it made a nice alternative.
In spite of having to desalt the fish overnight, I still prefer to use salt cod as it is tastier and the bones add to the flavour. They are easy to remove when the fish is cooked because they are very big and very visible.