The street food of Nice, the first time I actually ate socca was when my mother made it. Yeah, I don’t have your average culinary family. Since then I’ve had a strange obsession with it, having tracked it down from the one guy who makes it in all of Paris, to trying to master my own recipe.
What makes socca distinct from a regular crepe is that it’s made with chickpea flour (which happens to be gluten free and if you ask me, much more interesting than regular flour). It’s also called besan or garbanzo bean flour of course, and in the US you can get it from Bob’s Red Mill as well as tracking it down in stores that sell Middle Eastern ingredients. Beyond using it for socca, it’s also good for coating fritters and using as a thickener.
Here in France, it’s readily available at my local organic shop, so I have had plenty to play with lately. Numerous socca attempts to find the right consistency of batter? There are worse problems to have in life.
“Crepe” might in fact be the wrong word for socca – they’re a little thicker, somewhere in between a crepe and an American pancake, but much more delicious of course. I like mine thick enough that you can break off in healthy bits.
After a bit of tweaking and adding in a few spices (and healthy amounts of olive oil) I’ve ended up with a basic socca recipe that makes a crepe that’s just as good on its own as it is served wth grated carrots and a salad. Eat by itself or deck it out with whatever vegetables you have on hand.
Oh hi, it’s gluten free and vegan.
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Dash of ground pepper
Oil for frying
In a bowl, mix together chickpea flour, spices, water and oil. Mix together well with a whisk, cover with a tea towel and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
While in Nice you’ll find these made on big griddles… my kitchen is however not as well equipped. If you’re stocked with only a basic frying pan, the trick to socca is frying them at a very high temperature. Scoop about a quarter of a cup into a hot frying pan with a bit of olive oil in it and fry until the center of the socca looks solid (a couple of minutes) flip and fry the other side.
The first ones might not look that nice, but who cares? They’re delicious.
Serve hot, and preferably with rosé. You’re pretending you’re in Nice after all.