In Mexico, they call just about all shrimp and prawns “camarones.” In Spain, all of the different kinds of shrimp have different names, and “camarones” specifically refers to tiny little krill shrimp. Probably the most famous way to serve camarones in Spain, is this simple fritter from Cádiz in Andalucía, on the very southern coast. Cádiz, one of the oldest cities in the world, has a history that goes back more than 3000 years to the Phoenicians.
Despite the name, Tortillitas de Cádiz have nothing to do with the famous Tortilla Española, which some Americans to refer to as a Spanish omelet. These really are simple fritters, with a batter based on garbanzo flour. The garbanzo flour gives it´s own distinctive flavor to the fritters, and shows the Moorish influence that can still be seen quite strongly in the Southern parts of the country.
Make these fritters as thin as possible, to help them stay crispy when cooked. Some people make them with just a thin layer of batter holding together a dense matrix of the crispy shrimp. I prefer the versions that have a bit of onion inside. They still burst with intense shrimp essence, but have a bit more of a balanced flavor.
The pic shows the krill shrimp called “camarones” typically used for the tortillitas. The spoon is a standard tablespoon - that should give you an idea of their diminutive size. Each bite of tortillita should include a few of the little guys. In the USA, look for these tiny shrimp in Asian markets, where they often reside in the frozen section when not available fresh.
This recipe makes enough for a generous party sized serving. Cut the amounts in half if cooking for just the family.
200g All-purpose flour
200g Chickpea (garbanzo) flour
1 Tbsp Salt
500ml (2 1/8 cup) of unflavored soda water
1 lb camarones (krill shrimp), raw, whole, shell and head on
½ medium onion, peeled and cut in very small dice
½ bunch parsley, chopped fine
Oil for frying
If you cannot find raw camarones, substitute larger, peeled shrimp, and cut them in small pieces, raw.
Mix the flours and salt together in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs, mix in the soda water, then stir the wet ingredients into dry. Stir all of the remaining ingredients into the mix and let sit in fridge for at least an hour. The batter should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter. When ready to cook, if batter has thickened too much, stir in a little more soda water or cold water
Heat 1 cm (a little less than ½”) of oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, spoon the batter into thin patties in the pan, being careful not to splatter the oil up. Cook in batches and don’t crowd the pan. When the bottom side is a light golden brown, carefully turn over and continue cooking until the other side is lightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels for a minute or two. Serve hot.
Tortillitas are not typically served with a sauce, and they really don´t require one. Serve them alongside something acidic, like a tomato salad or gazpacho.