I have traveled around Spain and I’ve visited the north, the center, the Mediterranean coast and, of course, my region Andalusia. What I’ve found is that despite our differences, we Spaniards are bonded by two main products that are consumed all across the country: potatoes and extra virgin olive oil ( EVOO).
As a result, the most common tapa all over Spain that you’ll see in many traditional local tapas bars is the result of the inevitable, indeed necessary, combination of these two ingredients, which is papas bravas.
I know what you’re thinking. “But what paella!?” Look. If you’re planning a trip to Spain or just want to learn more about Spanish gastronomy, you deserve to know the truth: we love our papas bravas!
There are as many recipes of papas bravas as there are people in Spain. Although this recipe is relatively simple, there are 2 keys to nailing this recipe like a pro:
- The correct method for deep-frying the potato in EVOO.
- The balance of flavor in the brava sauce–it should be spicy but not too spicy!
At the end of the day, papas bravas is a dish we locals take very seriously, and it’s much more than just french fries with ketchup. Papas bravas is best served with a chilled beer as a tapa or as a side dish to a meal like pinchito moruno.
Papas Bravas Recipe
I have divided this recipe in 3 parts: the potatoes themselves, the brava sauce and the white sauce.
For the potatoes
1 medium or large potato per person. The variety Maris Piper (in UK) works very good for this dish or Russet potatoes (in USA)
2 cups of EVOO (I use the brand ‘La Española’ which is available at Walmart and on Amazon. This is used in almost every household in Andalusia!)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Approximately 10% of salt from the total amount of potatoes (For instance: if we have 500 grams of potatoes, then 50 g of salt.) The pepper you can measure according to taste.
For the brava sauce
½ cup of tomato sauce
½ tsp of coarse sea salt
½ orange juice
2 glugs of EVOO blend La Española
1 tbsp of vinegar
1 tsp of dry oregano
1 tsp of smoked Spanish paprika
2 tbsp of hot chili sauce (Sriracha sauce)
½ tbsp grated ginger
½ tsp of ground cayenne or chili pepper
For the white sauce
3 heaping spoons of mayonnaise
1 lime zest
½ lime juice
2 large clean glass jars for mixing the sauces
1 frying pan or skillet
1 cutting board + 1 knife for the potatoes
- Brava sauce: put all the ingredients in a glass jar. Cover it with a lid. Shake it up until the sauce is well-blended.
- White sauce: same as brava sauce–add all ingredients to a jar and shake.
- Frying potatoes: we will use a technique called “double cooking”.
- Cut the potatoes into large, evenly sized cubes. Leave the peel on.
- Heat the oil in the frying pan at 160ºC or 320F – medium low heat
- Fry the potatoes for about 7-8 minutes or until they get soft. Fry the potatoes in batches so they crisp up and aren’t overcrowded in the pan.
- When taking the fried potatoes out of the oil, place them on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
- After the oil is drained, place the potatoes on a plate and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. This will help the potatoes continue to cook and they will get very soft.
- After 20 minutes, remove the aluminum foil wrap and smash each diced fried potato with your thumb and finger or with a fork (This step is optional, but gives a nice rustic shape to the fried potatoes).
- Heat up the oil again up to 180 ºC (355 ºF)or 200 ºC (400 ºF), deep fry the potatoes in batches again but this time very quickly, for about 30 seconds, to get them very crispy outside and tender inside.
- Plate up the fried potatoes, drizzle the white sauce first and finally the brava sauce.