(Puerto Rican stuffed fritters)
Say the word "alcapurrias," and most Puerto Ricans think "beach food." These scrumptious fritters are usually made with a batter of taro (yautía) and green bananas (guineos verdes), and are stuffed with either a meat (pino) filling or with crab, shrimp or lobster. Sold by vendors on the beach, they make a great snack for hungry stomachs after a long day in the sun.
A couple of notes:
"Green bananas" does not mean bananas that are slightly underripe. It means green green. So green they are a little hard to peel. They can be found in this state at many Latin and Asian markets, but you might have a hard time finding them at most mainstream supermarkets. Ask the produce section people if they have any in the back. Otherwise, use unripe plantains instead.
Raw yautía can irritate some people's skin. You might want to wear rubber gloves when peeling and grating it.
4 to 6 servings as an appetizer
- Peel the yautía and grate it on a fine grater into a large bowl. Next peel the green bananas and grate them into the same bowl. Add the sazón and salt and mix together well. Place the masa, or batter, in a food processor and pulse until the batter is fairly smooth.
- Cut a banana leaf or a piece of wax or parchment paper into a round slightly larger than your hand. Put about 1/2 cup of the batter onto the round and spread it out a bit. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pino filling in the middle of the batter. Using the round, fold the batter up and around the filling, completely enclosing it. Form the batter into a smooth, oval round and set it aside. Continue with the remaining batter and filling until it is used up.
- Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large pan or deep fryer to about 370°F. Drop a few of the alcapurrias at a time into the oil and fry until well browned on one side. Flip and brown well on the second side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining alcapurrias.
- Serve hot with a hefty dash of hot pepper sauce.
- Filling variations: Try using crab meat, shrimp, lobster chopped chicken or chopped turkey simmer with a little sofrito.
- Masa variations: Besides yautía and green bananas, try using plantains, yuca (cassava) or potatoes in your masa. Some cooks add a little vinegar to the dough. It both flavors it and probably helps to keep it from browning too much. Chilling the masa first makes it easier to handle.
- Alcapurrias freeze well. Place them on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until they are frozen. Then transfer them to an airtight bag and return to the freezer. Drop frozen alcapurrias directly into the hot oil to cook.