Tortilla de patatas - Spain

I didn’t see this coming.  I have been dreaming about my full-time travel year in Southeast Asia for almost a decade and, once the stars align and I’m finally able to do it, COVID-19 happens. And, you know what? It is fine. It truly is.

  • It is fine because I am young and I have a strong immune system.
  • It is fine because I won’t risk getting the virus anyway so that I can contribute to flattening the curve.
  • It is fine because my family back home is alright and, although I fear for a friend of mine, I’m positive she knows how to take care of herself and will be okay.
  • It is fine because I have a job that allows me to work remotely, and I don’t have to commute and (for now) won’t be fired.
  • It is fine because there are way worse places to be stuck in than Vietnam, to be honest.
  • It is fine because I come from a rather privileged background and I have the means to get good healthcare should I need it, or catch a flight back home if things get more complicated.
  • And, last but not least, it is fine because staying home for so long is the perfect excuse to cook.

In many places, though, people are going nuts at the supermarket, and some ingredients may be hard to get. That’s why I’ve decided to share the recipe for this Spanish staple that is so precisely because you only need a few basic ingredients and the result is SO delicious. Also, because Spain is not accepting tourists right now and, as I always say, eating typical dishes from a place transports you there. So here it is, for me to feel closer to home when things are so uncertain, and for you to travel there without leaving your kitchen:

A tortilla de patatas fully cooked. It looks like a pie.

TORTILLA DE PATATAS – SPANISH OMELET

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1,5 pounds of potatoes
  • 0,75 pounds of onions (I love onions, but you can definitely reduce the proportion. Some people don’t even use any onions. I don’t trust those people, though)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil

Recipe:

Peel the potatoes and here, in the very first step, comes the controversy: some people like to cut them into little squares, but I prefer to slice them. Rinse them and dry them with a cloth. Meanwhile, chop the onions and fry them. To do so, be generous with the olive oil in a large pan (it can be made with a more inexpensive oil as well, but the extra flavor makes a world of difference).

Chopped onions being fried in a large pan

When the onions are semi-transparent and soft, strain them but reuse the oil to fry the potatoes, so that they become impregnated with all the aroma. I told you, I love onions. Please, when frying the potatoes don’t be like I usually am and don’t let them burn. They should be done in medium heat for as long as it takes for them to be easily cut with a fork or wooden spoon, but not to fall apart (usually around 15-20 minutes, depending on how thin you cut them).

A fried potatoes plate

While the potatoes are cooking, separate yolks and whites and beat the whites almost until stiff. Then beat the yolks and incorporate them with gentle circular movements. Okay, this is the theory, so that you get a sponge-like texture. The reality? I almost always forget this step and beat the eggs together quickly because I’m late for dinner and, honestly, since I like my omelet a little runny, I don’t think it will make a difference for me. If you, on the other hand, like your eggs very well done, you might want not to skip this step or substitute it by a pinch of baking soda. In any case, once the eggs have been beaten, add some salt. Add the strained potatoes and the onions to the egg and, if they have already cooled down, leave them there for a while so that the egg soaks up all the flavor. But if you’re in a hurry like I always seem to be, you can also pour all of it directly to the pan. I tend to use the same pan, without rinsing it, just put all the oil in a jar and leave a thin layer so that it doesn’t stick.

Cook over medium heat while shaping the edges so that they are rounded and smooth. That’s not only an aesthetic need but also a way for the omelet not to get burned into the pan. Once the edges and the bottom get curdled enough to flip the tortilla over, do so with the help of a big serving plate. If you are like me, you’ll cook for another couple of minutes, to seal the flip side and that’s it, because, as I told you, I like my eggs runny.

Raw egg drips from a tortilla pie that has one piece taken

Well, maybe this is too runny even for me. So if you prefer a well-done pie, you’ll want to cook it for a bit longer; carefully though, for it can get burned easily.

Instagram screenshot with a cenital picture of a tortilla de patatas

And that’s how, my friends, with very few ingredients you wow your palate and forget about this freaking virus for a minute. I’ve made this for American, Australian, Japanese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Chilean, Italian, British and French friends over the years and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t LOVE this dish. I challenge you to find one! (Granted that onions are optional [sic]).

You can also add some other ingredients to the original recipe: chorizo, leeks or, as I did here, zucchini (not the best of pictures, but good enough for you to get the idea):

A piece of tortilla with zucchini slices.

Lastly, if you like this idea and you need some simple and cheap dessert as well, check my last four-ingredient recipe: Îlles Flottantes. Although maybe not serve those in the same meal, it may be too many eggs!

To wrap up: stay safe, stay home, stay positive… and stay busy eating tortilla de patatas!

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