If you’re visiting London, or just want a little Spanish food in your life, you’ll want to check out acclaimed Spanish Chef José Pizarro and his restaurants José Tapas Bar, Pizarro Restaurant, and José Pizarron in Brodgate. If you’re not planning to be in London anytime soon, his cookbook, Catalonia: Recipes from Barcelona and Beyond is the perfect way to get a touch of Spanish cuisine in your life. Below we’re sharing his recipe for something amazing – his “Bermondsey Bomb” made with lots of potatoes, garlic, hot peppers, all fried in a crispy ball.
According to Pizarro, “La bomba de la Barceloneta is one of the most popular tapas in Barcelona. It’s a big fried ball made with mashed potato and normally stuffed with spicy carrots or meat.
I’m not sure if it’s true, but La Cova Fumada is renowned as the birthplace of this dish. It is definitely worth a visit – it’s a lovely old-fashioned bar serving great food. Enjoy a vermut with your bomba – they cook a stunning local version with prawns and octopus, it’s very tasty.
La Barceloneta was badly destroyed during the civil war, as was the area in London where I have two of my restaurants, Bermondsey. We’ve used a little bit of irony here, and called this dish the ‘Bermondsey Bomb’ as it appears on my menu.”
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) desiree potatoes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 good pinches of chilli flakes
- 400 g 14 oz tin tomatoes
- 160 g (5½ oz) minced (ground) pork
- 75 g (2½ oz /scant ⅔ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 100 g (3½ oz / 1 cup) dry breadcrumbs
- olive oil for deep-frying
- 1 quantity alioli to serve
- for the alioli
- 1 free-range egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 75 ml (2½ fl oz) vegetable oil
- 75 ml (2½ fl oz) olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- lemon juice to taste
- To make the alioli, whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar and some seasoning. Gradually whisk in the vegetable then olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the time until you have a thick, glossy mayonnaise. Whisk in the garlic and lemon juice to taste. If too thick, whisk in 25–30 ml (1 fl oz) of water. Set aside.
- Put the potatoes in a large pan with cold salted water and bring to the boil. When cooked through, drain and let cool. Peel and mash the potatoes. Season to taste and set aside. Keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan and add half of the onions. Cook over a medium heat until they start to caramelise (about 20–30 minutes), then add the garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes. Cook for another minute and then add the meat. Cook for 10 minutes and season to taste. Set aside.
- To make the spicy tomato sauce, heat the remaining olive oil in another pan and cook the rest of the onions over a medium heat until soft. Add a pinch of chilli flakes and the tomatoes and cook until reduced, with almost no juices left. Season to taste.
- Make a ball of around 100 g (3½ oz) mash. Use your thumb to press a hole into the centre. Fill the cavity with the meat mixture and cover with more mash to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining mash and meat mixture.
- Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. One by one, roll the balls first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.
- In a deep pan heat enough oil to cover 2–3 ‘bombs’ to 180ºC (350ºF) or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. Fry the bombs until golden – use a thermometer to make sure they are hot inside. Spoon some alioli in the centre of a plate and place a bomb on top and spoon over the spicy tomato sauce. Serve hot.
Excerpt and photo printed with permission from Catalonia: Recipes from Barcelona and Beyond by José Pizarro, photo by Laura Edwards, published by Hardie Grant Books October 2017.