This is Destination Food- recipes inspired by food around the world but using, at least the majority, of local seasonal ingredients to recreate them.
All of us have been to another country and eaten food that we’ve fallen in love with. Some of the dishes may even become extra special, signifying a special evening. Or simply just something we crave and need to eat again. We can never truly replicate the food, or the moment, but we can sure try, making them special in their own way by using our own local seasonal produce.
Even though the potato originally came from South America, it has become synonymous with Irish food, you almost can’t have an Irish dish that doesn’t have potato in it in some form or other.
For the first instalment of “Destination Food” I thought it only fitting then to do something potato based. I lived in Indonesia for a year and there is a side dish there that I’d never heard of until one Friday at work, one of my colleagues went out to get us all “padang”- a collection of victuals from a food stall. You can choose what you want in your padang, usually rice, greens, krupuk (a type of rice cracker), a meat, sambal (chilli sauce), and the best- perkedel.
Perkedels are Indonesian fried potato balls usually with herbs. They sound so simple, but most stalls sell out of them really quickly in the day, meaning you are overjoyed when you are able to get one, even better two!
As with a lot of food around the world, perkedels are a fusion of two cultures- which again makes it a suitable start to the Destination Food series . After first arriving in 1595, the Dutch colonised Indonesia in the 1600s, bringing with them their own cuisine. Perkedels started as Frikandel- a Dutch patty made with mainly minced meat. Over the years, it has morphed into the perkedel resulting in a delicious soft mashed potato centre and a crispy deep-fried outer.
The Irish Version of the Perkedel
So, for the making of our first Destination Food recipe, we need good Irish potatoes. There are many types of potatoes that you could use to make perkedels, but most important is to opt for a floury potato, not waxy. Meaning Rooster, Kerr’s Pink, Maris Piper, Navan, and Garden are all acceptable to use; if you can get your hands on Marabels, ever better. If in doubt, just check the label or ask the seller which type they have is best for mash. At Indie Füde’s Comber branch, we often have Paul Kirk’s Maris Piper and Rooster potatoes or you can click and collect.
It’s important not to boil the potatoes before mashing as they will become too watery and result in a mushy patty. Instead, deep fry or bake your chosen potatoes first.
For the perkedel herbs, use local or your own grown to add the kind of flavour you’re after. Parsley is a good start. If you have the knowledge, you could even forage for a truly unique Irish perkedel.
The flour for binding the patties is a bit tricky to get 100% local as unfortunately wheat growing declined on the island of Ireland and most of our wheat is imported. Luckily, a few farmer’s are putting in the hard yards now to grow Irish wheat and restore the once burgeoning production that existed here for thousands of years. We stock Dunany and Macroom flour but here are a few others if you want to know more!
For me, it has to be Cavanagh Eggs. When you crack one of these eggs open, you can literally see the difference in the bright yellow colour of the yolk. They are so rich and nutritious once cooked too.
The Garlic and Scallions
You can buy locally grown garlic and scallions, maybe for the garlic not always to be found in the supermarket, but in farmer’s markets or a quick search online. You could also try your hand at growing your own garlic or scallions, if you sow now you could be harvesting scallions in May and garlic in July!
For pretty much anything, Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil is my go-to. It’s grown and produced in Limavady, has a high heating point making it great for frying, and is cold-pressed meaning nothing else is added.
500g floury potato, I used Paul Kirk’s Rooster, washed and quartered
2 gloves of garlic, peeled
1 scallion, finely chopped, or use a food processor
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Cavanagh Eggs
3 Tbsp plain flour
- If you have a deep fat fryer, then use to deep fry the potatoes. If not, you can shallow fry in a pan. Either way, fry until golden brown and cooked through
- Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar
- Finely chop the scallions and herbs of your choice
- In a big bowl, add the cooked potato and mash until smooth
- Add in one egg, the scallion, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the ingredients together to combine
- Add in the flour and knead gently until you have an even consistency
- Form little balls, a bit bigger than a golf ball, from the mix and flatten into a patty shape.
- Add the oil to a hot pan, when oil is hot enough, try a little tester. It should begin to sizzle immediately
- Whisk the remaining egg, dip each patty in the egg and fry
- Cook each patty until golden brown on each side
- Serve hot as a side or snack on their own with a dip of your choice.
I hope you have a go at this Indonesian side dish, it suits our Irish produce so well, and can be jazzed up in so many ways to suit whatever mood you’re in. It’s also a great way to use up the rest of the potatoes that you got for something else. You can also batch cook them and freeze them to be enjoyed on a night when making something from scratch is just not on the cards.
Let us know if there is any dish you’d like to see in our Destination Food series.