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Shrimp and Saffron Pancakes

Shrimp and Saffron Pancakes
In Andalusia, in southern Spain, flamenco dancing, galloping horses and the very best array of tapas are commonplace. These simple little Andalusian pancakes are typically made with shrimp the size of a small thumbnail, a specialty of the region. Use the smallest shrimp you can find. Chickpea flour is available at well-stocked health-food stores.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion, including tender green portions
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lb. small shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:

In a small fry pan over low heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the green onion, cover and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, chickpea flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp, cooked green onions, chopped parsley, paprika, saffron and water. Stir well. The batter should be the consistency of very heavy cream. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to overnight.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When the oil is hot, drop in 2 Tbs. batter for each pancake, spreading out each mound with the back of a spoon to form a cake about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Do not crowd the pan. Fry, turning once, until pancakes are golden, about 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm. Fry the remaining batter in the same way.

Arrange pancakes on a warmed platter and serve immediately. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.
Makes about 20 pancakes; serves 6
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Small Plates, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1998).