If you’ve ever been to Martinique, you know this duo is the base of the local cuisine that you can’t avoid sampling while on the island. These tropical flavours are guaranteed to export to you to the Caribbean sun and brighten any lock-down aperitif or apéro as we say in French!
There are as many accras (fritters) recipes as there are cooks, the most known one being the accras de morue, with codfish. My personal favorite recipe uses shrimp however, and this is the one I’ll be sharing with you. This recipe doesn’t have habanero pepper in it (as we have kids), but if you like it hot throw in a half of a habanero for more kick.
Don’t be skimpy in the amount of oil you use to fry the accras, there should be a fair amount to have them floating in the pot in order to be successful. Also, be careful when dropping the batter in the oil to avoid injuries! Accras in Martinique are normally eaten without a dip but go great with garlic mayo or what we call the “dog sauce” (there’s no dog in it though, rest assured), sauce chien.
Accras de crevettes / prawn accras
300 g peeled prawn
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
1-3 mild, small chili peppers (piment végétarien)
2 tbsp shredded coriander/ flat parsley
2-3 tbsp shredded spring onion
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves removed)
1 tsp lime juice
210 g (3 ½ dl)all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt, some pepper
120 g (2 dl) water (about)
For frying: ½ liter of oil
Take the shrimp out of the freezer and let melt in peace. Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Take the seeds off the chili peppers, cut them as well as the herbs. Drain the shrimp, and cut to smaller pieces. Season the prawns with the salt, pepper and lime juice. Also blend in the onions, chili and herbs and put to fridge for about 15 min. Add the flour, baking powder and half of the water to the mixture. Mix carefully by folding with a wooden spoon and add the rest of the water. The batter should be quite thick.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until hot (350-375 degrees) and use a tablespoon to portion out the batter and another one to scrape the batter to the pot. Do a test fritter first to see is your oil is hot enough and to test out cooking time. If your oil is too cold the fritter will sink before popping to the surface. Fry about 2 minutes and then flip the batter over with a slotted spoon and fry the other side about 2 minutes more. The fritter should be golden brown on the outside and cooked from the inside.
If your oil seems ready, pop in about 5 to 6 spoonfuls at a time and fry until golden brown. Scoop up the fritters with a slotted spoon and drain away as much of oil you can by holding the spoon at an angle on the side of the pot. Then transfer to a plate covered by several sheets of paper towels to drain. Continue until your batter is finished and serve hot with the ti- punch!
So, now to Martinique’s most famous drink, the ti-punch. The name is creole and ti actually comes from petit, so nothing to do with tea as many of my guests have thought! The original drink used to have five ingredients, and the name punch is thought to derive from the hindi word panch, meaning five. The modern list of ingredients is down to three though, so although this drink is super simple to make it is delicious (and well, very strong)! The only important thing is that you must you Agricole rum, Bacardi or any of that lot would be blasphemy. The local way to serve ti-punch is with the whole bottle of rum brought to you with the lime and cane sugar (syrup or raw) with a glass. You are then free to compose your own drink, as everyone has their dosage – we say chacun prepare sa proper mort – each prepares their own death….
1 ½ shot white Agricole rum
¼ shot sugarcane suryp
1 slice fresh lime
Pour the rum and the sugar/syrup in a glass. Then cut a disk from the side of the lime (not a wedge!), squeeze some juice and drop in the glass. Stir, add ice if needed (in Martinique most people drink without ice).
So there you are, now put some zouk in the background and wear your madras shirt and you could almost be in Martinique!