Have you tried socca?
Socca, a thin, unleavened pancake made from chickpea flour, is a popular street-food in the south of France. All along the Ligurian Sea coast there are vendors with enormous pans cooking up socca with crisp, brown edges that is not soft in the middle.
When you get into Italy socca becomes farinata. Despite the different names socca is most often drizzled with olive oil then sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary. It is meant to be eaten with your fingers and the French love it with a chilled glass of rosé wine.
But socca has many possibilities. Follow #socca on Instagram and you’ll see people making socca pizza, socca rolled up and stuffed like crepes and even socca lasagne. These are not traditional but clearly there is no end to the possibilities. In your kitchen you can create anything you want.
But first, one must learn the steps to making perfect socca.
Socca Tips & Techniques
This is a simple recipe yet there are a few things to learn before you master it. The traditional way of cooking socca is in a cast iron pan on a roaring wood fire. Let’s assume you won’t be using a wood fire so these are my tips and techniques for the everyday home cook.
- Preheat the oven then preheat the frying pan to achieve the crisp edges without burning the socca or leaving it soft in the middle.
- Sifting the flour first ensures there are no lumps in the bottom of the bowl.
- Letting the batter rest is important to allow the starch to gel so the pancake won’t split as it cooks.
- Use good quality olive oil for the most authentic taste.
- You want the sweetness of the chickpea to come through so do not roast the flour. (This comment is for super tasters and I’m not one of those.)
Then mess around and do it your own way. Some cooks use the broiler, others cook socca on the stove and of course not everyone has a cast iron pan. In the recipe directions I tell you the size of pans I use and the amount of batter but in your kitchen you get to make it your way.
I actually don’t feel like I’ve mastered it yet but I’m still trying.
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What Is Chickpea Flour
Are you familiar with chickpea flour? It has a unique taste (like chickpea do), but it is high in fibre and that is important to many people on a gluten free diet. For this reason, and because socca is interesting and delicious, you may want to buy some.
As part of my yearlong blog post series on all the different gluten free flours in my kitchen I wrote one of them on How To Use Chickpea Flour. I had chickpea flour in my kitchen for years before I ever heard of gluten free, yet I only used it for a few recipes. When I learned of socca I was happy to add it to the list.
Buying Chickpea Flour
This is one of the quotes I refer to as quotes to live by.
There are varieties of chickpeas (and why wouldn’t there be). Therefore chickpea flour also goes by garbanzo bean flour, gram flour or besan. You can buy it online or in East Indian grocery stores and you can even find brands with a certified gluten free symbol.
But beware, chickpeas are not fava beans. Any flour that combines those two is not the flour you want to make socca.
Get The Tools
Socca is best made in a cast iron frying pan, the kind of pan many people have in their camping supplies. If you don’t have one ask a friend or relative. You never know, someone may be happy to let you borrow theirs. Cast iron frying pans are not expensive and will last a lifetime. Once you have one I’m sure you can find a few more recipes to use it with.
So, when are you going to make socca? Let me know in the comments below and if you are a socca expert I’d love to hear your tips. Mine got more crispy when I reheated it in the same cast iron pan the next day. Try it!
More Recipes with Chickpea Flour
|1 cup chickpea flour, sifted|
|1¼ cup water|
|¾ tsp salt|
|2 Tbsp olive oil|
|COOKING – 1-2 Tbsp olive oil per frying pan|
|FINISHING – olive oil for drizzling, sea salt and fresh or dried rosemary|
- Combine chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil. Whisk until combined. Let rest for 30 minutes. The recipe makes 1⅔ cups batter.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to cast iron pan(s)* and place in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Cook in two batches if necessary.
- Remove pan from oven and pour in ¾-1 cup of batter. Cook socca until the edges are crisp and brown but not burnt, 15-18 minutes. Perfectly cooked socca will not be soft in the middle.
- Remove socca to cutting board and cut into wedges. Sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and crumbled rosemary. Serve hot.
- Repeat with remaining batter.
- *I used 2 cast iron pans at once, a 10-inch and an 8-inch pan. I put ⅔ cup batter in an 8-inch pan and 1 cup batter in 10-inch pan.