Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Potato Omelet)

Because of the lackluster tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelet) that I got from Cobras & Matadors the other night, I woke up with an urge to make my own. A Spanish tortilla is what we think of as a frittata so it should be thick, with layers of potatoes. While some versions I've eaten feature potato chunks, I think slices would look much nicer.

But instead of the usual onions, I decided the leeks from my garden would be perfect.

Normally leeks are covered with dirt to keep the stalks white, but I didn't do that. I just dug a narrow trench, threw in some seeds, and let mother nature do her work. Half a year later, ta da! It was time to thin out my crop anyway, but these baby leeks had a very light flavor.

For one large tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelet), you'll need:

4 small to medium potatoes
4 eggs
2 tblsp milk (optional but I think it makes eggs fluffier)
a handful of leeks, or 1 onion if you don't have any, washed and sliced thinly
a few dashes of salt

Peel, clean, and thinly slice the potatoes. Keep them in heavily salted water so they don't turn brown. Then clean and wash the leeks. Don't follow Rachel Ray and wash them once and drain on a towel. Leeks accumulate a lot of dirt in between the layers, so triple wash and make sure all the dirt is gone.

When you're ready to cook, drain the potatoes in a colander.

In a saucepan on medium heat, add a few drizzles of olive oil and saute the leeks until softened. Place them into a bowl and set aside. Add more oil if needed and gently fry potatoes so that they're softened, but not necessarily golden. You'll need to do this in several batches to thoroughly cook the potatoes. Don't rush or you'll get hard, uncooked pieces later on when you're trying to eat the omelet. Put cooked potatoes in the same bowl as the leeks.

When all the potatoes have been cooked, drain any excess liquid from the bowl. Then add four beaten eggs, 2 tblsps of milk, and a few dashes of salt. Mix thoroughly.

Turn heat down to medium-low and pour mixture into pan and cover. Check after a few minutes to see if it's mostly cooked. Then borrowing the method I used for flipping okonomiyaki, slide the omelet onto a plate with the cooked side down. Then take the pan and place it over the top of the omelet, where it's still uncooked. Hold the plate to the pan tightly (Use potholders!) and flip.

Cover with the lid again. Give it a few minutes more to thoroughly cook and you'll get this.

Here's a close-up of all those potato layers.

And the side-view, of course.

Slice into wedges to serve. Add a few dashes of chili sauce if you wish.

Incidentally, because no Saturday is complete without me taunting you with my family's home cooking. While I was making this last weekend, my oldest uncle's wife had made banh beo. They're Vietnamese steamed rice flour discs topped with dried shrimp. I even got a little container of sweetened fish sauce. Now that's a breakfast!

And this morning, I got homemade banh mi xiu mai (Vietnamese sub sandwiches with meatballs). Some have Spam, all of them have xiu mai (meatballs), cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, jalepenos, a bit of mayonnaise, and a bit of soy sauce.


  1. your omelet looks like another healthy dish.

    leeks looks just like onions which i dislike.


  2. Your leeks are so beautiful! I am envious. BTW, thanks for the tip on "Keep (the potatoes) in heavily salted water so they don't turn brown". I pre-cut some potatoes for curry chicken the other day and boy did they go brown on me after a while of sitting around.

  3. Hi WC - I love it the frittata, that is a Tortilla, that is a torta(Filipino)...whatever you call it, it looks great!

  4. Looks great. I love tortilla de patata, but I stink at making them. I either don't put in enough egg, or the egg isn't cooked enough, or whatever. They stink. You're making me want to give it another go, though.

  5. Your tortilla looks great. Mine usually just falls apart and ends up looking like an omelette! Maybe i need to be more patient and wait for it to cook slowly.

  6. t,
    4 eggs isn't that healthy. It was yummy though.

    I aim to be helpful. :)


    Follow my directions exactly. ;)

    Yeah, the trick is to cook it at a low enough temperature so it all cooks. A higher temperature will burn the outside before the inside is cooked.


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