Thursday, 2 September 2010

SOCCA DE NICE


Not a football team, but a speciality of south-eastern France, in particular, the city of Nice, Socca is a kind of crepe or flatbread. It is made with chickpea (gram) flour (farinata in Italian) and olive oil, and is baked in a hot oven, often in a cast-iron pan more than a metre in diameter. It is traditionally served hot and eaten with the fingers. It makes a very good tapa as it can be used as a base for other things, such as tapenade or cheese. I sometimes make it instead of focaccia as an accompaniment to a meal, and I like to scatter it with fresh rosemary and fine shards of sea salt. It is a glorious yellow colour and has an unusual nutty flavour.

No longer the preserve of health-food shops or Indian stores, chickpea flour is easily available these days in the supermarket. My Tesco 'Local' sells it in the speciality section (near the veg) in big 2 kg bags. I use it for making onion bhajis and falafels as well.

Socca is easy to make. You just need to let the batter stand for an hour or so before cooking (as you would for pancake batter). The quantities given below can be easily doubled up. The cooked socca comes out of the oven as lovely golden slab with crispy edges.

150 g chick-pea flour
250 ml water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)

Oven 200C

Whisk the flour and water together to create a smooth batter, about the consistency of double cream. Season and set aside for about an hour. Pour the olive oil into a baking tray and heat in the oven for about 5 minutes. Pour the batter over the oil (it may bubble up around the edges), scatter with rosemary, and put the baking tray in the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the socca is golden brown and slightly crisp on top. Cut into slabs and serve hot.

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