The first thing that surprised us about Colombia was the incredible selection of street food. We found grilled meat skewers, sausages, empanadas and a multitude of other fried treats, all on our first afternoon in Santa Marta.
Since leaving Mexico, the street food scene had all but dried up. We had given up hope. Seeing as Colombia is rarely spoken of in the world of street food, to say we were pleasantly surprised at our discovery would be an understatement.
While the diversity of snacks is, for the most part anyway, limited to a varying selection of fried batter or dough, there’s one that stands high above the rest.
Reganonas are the best street snack we’ve found in Colombia, and are ridiculously easy to make. The subtle sweetness of the fritter itself straddles the lines of dinner and dessert. The cool, salty bite of the cheese and tangy heat of the salsa do just enough to keep things savoury. That being said, you can easily tip the scales in the other direction if you’re so inclined. Simply replace the cheese and salsa for a drizzle of condensed milk and a dusting of cinnamon, and you’re set!
(makes about 10 fritters)
2 ears of corn
2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cornmeal, extra fine
Vegetable oil for frying
Queso fresco or feta cheese, for serving
Aji salsa, recipe follows, for serving
Heat oil to 350F in a pot and line a large plate with paper towel and keep it close.
Remove corn kernels from the cobs and put 3/4 of them into the blender.
Add eggs, baking powder, sugar and salt, blend until smooth and transfer mixture to a bowl
Stir in whole kernels and corn meal
Very carefully, spoon the corn batter into the oil using a tablespoon. Do not overcrowd the pot, about 3-4 at a time.
Once the fritters brown, flip them around once until golden brown and they start to darken around the edges. If they are browning too quickly reduce the heat and leave in for about 4 minutes per side.
Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all fritters are cooked.
Slice open and drizzle with aji salsa and eat with a slice of cheese and a cold beer.
Although aji peppers are a specific variety native to South America, Aji is the common term in the region for any type of chili. If your local Latin market doesn’t have this specific variety, any hot pepper will do.
1 Aji chili or jalapeno (more or less, depending on your heat preferences)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lime, juiced
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Put jalapeno, vinegar, sugar and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth.
Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir in hot pepper mixture. Season to taste.
Refrigerate up to 10 days
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