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Bollitos de Carita

When I decided to make bollitos de carita – black-eyed pea fritters made from beans soaked for hours then husked and ground to a paste – I couldn’t believe no simmering would be required.  Left overnight, they were supposed to blister and pucker leaving behind perfectly tender, creamy white beans.  I loved that caritas roughly translates to “little faces” and imagined removing the peel would be as simple as slipping off a mask.  Not so.  Some popped right out but more needed coaxing, and no matter how many I did, there were always more.

Included in 19th century cooking manuals, according to Mary Urrutia Randelman these fritters were sold by Chinese street vendors calling out “Bollitos! Frituras!” through the streets of Havana.  It all seemed very poetic, but when I sat down to the task I couldn’t help but think it should be easier.  Was there a trick to it that I was missing?  I could picture entire families sitting around the table and pitching in to peel the peas.

The frying at least was simple as promised.  Quickly processed with mashed garlic and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, I thought the batter was way too loose, but when I dropped it in the oil (with my new favorite gadget the cookie scoop), they puffed up and went gold in a couple of seconds.  In their raw state, they tasted something like soy beans but once fried they had a bread-like texture I wasn’t expecting.  I sprinkled them with lime juice but they really started singing when I added a mango-pepper jelly to set off the bite from the garlic.  A few frituritas later, I decided maybe they weren’t too much trouble after all.

Bollitos de Frijoles de Carita/Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen: More Than 200 Classic Recipes by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz.

1/2 pound black-eyed peas, dried, picked through and well rinsed
4-5 whole garlic cloves, mashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2-4 tablespoons water (optional)

Soak the black-eyed peas in water at least 8 hours or overnight. Change water at least twice.

Drain peas and rinse well.  Rub off the outer husks with the black spots, saving the white beans.  Combine the beans, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until it forms a smooth paste adding water if needed.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of oil over medium-high heat to 375º.  Working in batches, scoop out one rounded tablespoon of the bean mixture and add to the oil, 5-6 at a time.  Turn the fritters with a slotted spoon until they are puffed up and golden, about 1-2 minutes.  Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet or the oil temperature will fall.  Remove fritters from oil and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with lime and serve.

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Denise Browning #

    Although making them was a lot of work because you had to peel part of the black-eyed peas, it was worth because they look so appetizing. Kudos, Sofia!

    1 May 2012
  2. They look delicious! Lovely photos.

    1 May 2012
  3. Oh so nice, worth the trouble it seems. Isn’t it crazy sometimes when we see what people in the past went through to make food?! Today we don’t have the time! While reading this I pictured a woman sitting at her kitchen table, peeling the peas, gazing out the window and dreaming.

    2 May 2012
    • hungrysofia #

      That’s a nice way of putting it. It did become meditative after awhile.

      3 May 2012
  4. Reblogged this on d'liteful cravings.

    2 May 2012
  5. They look amazing! I’ve never had them before..

    4 May 2012
  6. I love Mary Urrutia’s cookbook!! so many fun old recipes to try :]

    18 July 2012
  7. Alina #

    Your boyitos look wonderful. I could have written your comments above, having had the same experience. The boyitos and frituritas de malanga are some of my very favorite foods. I still remember getting them on the street as you describe above. Still after the bean peeling experience thought, no wonder my mom stopped making then as she got older.

    I am going to try to make them with the skins on, pulse the beans first in the processor, and then add the garlic and salt, and see if the result is edible.

    19 August 2012
  8. Rosie #

    I have been looking for a Bollitos recipe for ages. I am going to make this recipe and let you know how it went for me. This was a favorite here in Tampa, Florida, especiallly in Ybor City and West Tampa. My parents would buy 2 bags of hot
    Bollitos to go at the restaurant near our house and hot fresh Bollitos would come in a little brown paper bag and usually would be sold by the dozen. I LOVED THEM! The old ways have gone by the wayside and now I have no idea who sells them ready made. Thank you ancestors for this delight palette of flavors.

    1 June 2013
  9. Victoria. L #

    Looks good! Interestingly, in Nigeria we have a very similar dish called Akara (cooked in the same way, seasoned differently). Similarly in Brazil, especially Bahia they have a dish called Acaraje (the same dish!) which West African (Nigerian) Slaves brought over.

    We, and Brazil also have a dish which uses the same black eyed beans, but instead of frying the mixture is steamed, we call it Moin Moin. In Brazil they call it Abara.

    It’s really quite interesting how the recipes were carried over (and stayed) from one continent to another. Check out this link which explains in detail: http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/2010/02/09/akara-acaraje-the-brazilian-nigerian-connection/

    I’d love to try this version someday! Next stop Cuba! =)

    8 June 2013
  10. Barbara B. Dunn #

    Oh! i’m so glad that I found your page and the hot bollitos. I haven’t had them in many years because we moved from Key West, Fla. to Louisiana, believe me they don’t know what they are. We moved here in 1954 and I’ve been looking for someone that had the recipe of them. My uncle was going to send me one, but he died before he could get it in the mail to me. I thought I had lost some of my hertiage along the way, I’ve got Spainish blood in me, on my mom side and I’m proud of it too. I’m going to have these for Christmas with my black beans, yellow rice and roasted pork loin.So, Thanks for the recipe for hot bollitos. Barbara Dunn from La.

    29 November 2013
  11. I am actually glad to glance at this website posts which consists of lots of helpful data, thanks for providing these information.

    16 February 2014
  12. Highly energetic blog, I liked that a lot.

    Will there be a part 2?

    18 March 2014
  13. Sara #

    I was also going to mention the Nigerian akara like Victoria. When I’ve made akara before, I was shown to big up big handfuls of the soaked beans and scrub my hands together. Then the skins float at the top of the water. Great recipe, I’m looking forward to trying this!

    16 April 2014
  14. LaVern #

    I am now 86 in 1948 went to the keys They sold them on st. wow melt in mouth My res. called for flour . But I put all in blender after socking But yours sound good.They used chine pepper a
    friend from their gave me her Res.But yours is good

    15 July 2014
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    18 September 2014
  16. What’s up mates, itss great paragraph on the topic of cultureand entirely defined, keep it up all thhe time.

    19 September 2014

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