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Greg Henry's Travels I'm a hungry traveler. This is where I share my journey. You'll see I have a particular interest in eating once I arrive.

Passport & Plate - Buñuelos de Algas (Seaweed Fritters)

Uruguay | Wednesday, 18 February 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients

3 large eggs
3 cup milk
3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt (plus more for seasoning)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
4 ounce fresh or reconstituted dried seaweed, chopped
peanut or canola oil (as needed for frying)
lime wedges (to taste)
aioli (for dipping)

How to prepare this recipe

In a large bowl beat eggs and half the milk until well combined. Slowly stir in the flour, in 3 or 4 additions, then add the baking powder. Once fully incorporated and relatively smooth, add the remaining milk, salt and cayenne pepper; stir until smooth. The batter should be slightly thicker than pancake batter, and not at all lumpy. Adjust consistency with water or flour as needed. Stir in the seaweed. Set aside to rest at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat about 3-inches of oil in deep, straight-sided pot over medium-high heat until a fry thermometer reached 375 degrees F. Carefully drop batter by rounded tablespoons into hot oil and cook until golden, turning and rolling them with a heat proof utensil as needed for even browning, about 2 minutes. Do not crowd, work in batches, making sure to return the oil to the proper temperature between each batch. Drain on paper towels; season with salt while still very hot. Serve then hot with fresh lime wedges and ailoi on the side.

The story behind this recipe

When I travel I like to try new things. I was recently on a driving trip along the coast of Uruguay where I sampled Buñuelos de Algas (seaweed fritters). Humble hostels & high-end restaurants all serve them. The guidebooks call them a must-try. I agree. But if it weren’t for a freak rainstorm I might not have.

We’d just spent 2 nights in Punta Del Este where the days are filled by tanned, buffed, bikini-clad boys & girls plopped on the beach. The nights are late & the music is loud. We were craving some laid back beach time, so we got in the car & drove with no particular plan.

About 2 hours outside of Punta the rain come down in sheets so thick we had to pull into the first town we saw. That town was La Pedrera. We snagged a bluff top, oceanside table in a café. Without even being asked we were brought Buñuelos de Algas. They were hot & savory. They tasted just like the sea.

As we sat with our beer & fritters the rain moved on and the sun came out. We discovered a town whose lifestyle may be simpler than Punta and environs, but its beaches are as good as they get. La Pedrera may well be the next bohemian-chic hideaway along this beautiful coast. But none of that has happened quite yet.

For now the days are lazy & streets still close at sunset. Pedestrians wander eating hot fritters while drinking cheap beers from liter bottles or sipping Maté through silver straws. Musicians & artisans set up make-shift stands, creating a boisterous scene full of music & light. It’s fun to watch the streets fill with lusty-eyed teenagers hanging out in board shorts & bikinis, calculating each others every move.

For all this activity La Pedrera is quite small. Walk a block in either direction & the lust, laughter & lights are replaced by the smooth sound of the ocean, and the twinkling glimmer of Orion (standing on his head, from this American’s perspective). All in all it’s quite a special place. One I’ll always think of whenever I make this recipe for seaweed fritters.