Socca Chips, the new Mediterranean way to eat chickpeas! – Meanderings through France n° 168
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Chickpeas are part of Mediterranean cuisine since centuries if not millenniums and there are plenty of recipes using this versatile legume. If you already are familiar with the famous falafels from the Middle East you may not yet have heard of the socca made on the French Riviera. It’s a simple and very popular way to cook chickpeas and a real treat. Today chef Luc Salsedo proposes Socca Chips a new recipe of crisps made with chickpea flour. Broadly based on the original socca there are delicious and easy to carry everywhere with you.
Undoubtedly socca is the iconic dish of the Niçoise cuisine but it’s been a traditional Mediterranean dish known under various names all along the coast. It’s called Farinata in Italy, panisse on the Riviera, cade in Toulon, calentita in Spain or karantita on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea in Algeria. Although they may differ from one another they are all basically made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. The Niçoise socca is a large and thin savoury pancake cooked on a copper baking tray in a pizza oven. While baking the socca takes on an appetizing golden colour and is taken off the oven when the first burnt spots appear on top.
In the region you can still buy them from street vendors who cook them in portable ovens. It smells delicious and the vendor cuts large portions out of the big “pancake” before folding them into paper cones. Crispy on the outside and moist inside the socca is best eaten with your fingers still warm and tasty. Many restaurants also propose it in their menu and you can use it like you would do with pita bread to eat aubergine dip, black olive tapenade and varied other vegetable or fish spreads. Just perfect with a glass of chilled rosé!
Luc Salsedo was born in Nice and had his own restaurant for many years. One day he found himself with leftover chickpea purée and wondered how to use it. The purée was hard enough for him to cut thin slices out of it and fry them like potato chips. It turned out to be a brilliant idea! His client loved these unheard of Socca Chips and he was so successful with them that he closed his restaurant and developed his Socca Chips business. They are very popular and sold in many shops far from the Riviera. Now you can even buy them online. Luc Salsedo has created different kinds of socca chips and you can enjoy rosemary or garlic Socca Chips as well as Socca Sweet perfect for breakfast or with an ice cream. These Socca Chips are a great alternative to the original socca pancake when you’re far from the Riviera… which is unfortunately the case most of the year!
You can buy Socca Chips in three London shops “La Fromagerie” in Highbury, Marylebone and Bloomsbury (more details at www.lafromagerie.co.uk).
If you are far from London buy them on line at www.breakgourmand.com/en/
More information at: www.soccachips.com/en/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Annick Dournes and courtesy of Socca Chips