Acarajé – Black Eyed Pea Fritters from Bahia, Brazil
Acarajé is a traditional street food in Brazil, it is especially popular in the state of Bahia. This fritter is light in texture and bold in flavor: the red palm oil (where it is deep-fried) and the unique ingredients in the filling make the acarajé extremely distinctive. This is a little piece of some of the best things that Brazil has to offer! If you have been to Bahia, you know exactly what I am talking about. Enjoy!
Makes about 10 to 15 cakes
- 1 pound black-eyed peas
- 1 pound white onions (3 medium onions), roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups red palm oil
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, skin-on, whole
In a large bowl, cover peas with about 2 quarts of water and let soak overnight or up to 24 hours.
While still soaking, rub the beans between the palms of your hands to free the outer skins, which should float to the surface. Scoop off the skins and discard. Drain. Re-fill bowl with water so more skins float to surface (do that as many times as necessary to remove as many skins as possible). Rubbing handfuls of beans vigorously between the hands assists in this process. After several changes of water, drain, and individually remove any skins that are left. This process will take a long time, and there is no way around it.
In a food processor, process the peas and the onion. If it does not fit all at once in the food processor, do it in batches, transferring it to a large clean mixing bowl. Once all peas and onions have been processed, season with salt. Beat the batter for a few minutes with a wooden spoon, until it is light and fluffy.
In a large pan, heat red palm oil and vegetable oil. Place the whole onion in the pan. With a large wooden spoon, form balls of batter and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry small batches of batter for about 6 minutes (or 3 to 4 minutes on each side). The cakes are done once they turn bright orange and crispy on the outside. Remove from oil, and transfer to a plate covered with paper towel, allowing cooling for a couple of minutes.
Carefully carve a slit on the cake, across the longest side, and fill with Vatapá, hot pepper sauce, finely chopped tomatoes or cilantro (or a mixture of everything). Serve immediately.
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