In Haiti when you’re waiting for dinner and the hunger pangs are being aroused, the most delightful and welcome “amuse-bouche” which can be served is a plate of piping hot crisp Accra. This hors d’oeuvre transcends all others and is the perfect bite to accompany drinks, both alcoholic or non-alcoholic. These little golden fritters are made from grated malanga and are seasoned and fried. The preparation can vary from cook to cook, some making them simply with the grated root and seasonings, but others glorify them by adding bits of salted cod or smoked herring. Accra can be found on every Creole menu in Haiti and in restaurants everywhere a Haitian Diaspora can be found. If you are served good Accra, then chances are your meal will be a delicious one.
The malanga root is a rhizome from a plant which is well known for its beautiful leaves. In the gardening world it is used in landscaping and is also known as the “Elephant Ear” due to its majestic large elongated leaves. At the base of the plant is the tuber root which can range in size up to 2lbs. The look of the malanga is similar to a yam with a patchy brown skin and a slight hairy appearance. Once peeled, the malanga can vary in color from beige to yellow with slight pink veins. The flesh is firm, much like a potato. Peeling the outer skin and grating the flesh of the rhizome or corm causes a temporary itching on the fingers and hands. Malanga is also known as coco yam, eddo or yautia in some other countries. It is related to the taro, but is not the same root. Malanga is native to Central America and the north of South America and is said to be one of the most hypoallergenic foods in the world. Anyone suffering from gluten allergies should try malanga flour as a substitute.
In my home, the Accra has a reputation for being very, very good. I have watched this process for sometime, so I have learned to make this Haitian delight over the years. We like it well spiced and with the addition of salted codfish. You can do it without the addition of the fish, but it in my humble opinion, it is not as delicious. The flavor of the salted cod marries well with the malanga and is not very noticeable. I have a few family members who love the Accra at my house, but who “never eat salt cod”…so there; they’ll never know the secret.
Haitian style Accra
1lb finely grated malanga root
4 ozs shredded salt cod (desalted and boiled)
1 scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped or 2 wiriwiri peppers* (subject to your personal preference.)
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp sour orange juice
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp salt *
Add garlic, thyme, hot peppers, parsley and finely shredded codfish. Mix together well. Note: add the quantity of hot peppers you would like. I did not use all of these pictured! Flake the codfish into finer shreds than pictured. I also added a pinch of salt. Please be careful when preparing the salt fish. Soaking and then boiling for too long will affect the flavor and remove too much salt. Not soaking long enough will make your batter too salty. Taste the fish before adding. If the salt content is high, do not add 1 tsp salt to the malanga batter.
Beat one egg and incorporate into the mixture.
Heat 1″ oil in a frying pan. When hot, using 2 tablespoons, scoop the malanga mixture with a tablespoon into a fritter about 1 1/2 ” in length and about 1/4″ in thickness. This is the size that I make accras but some people prefer them bigger and longer. In this instance use a dinner knife blade to measure the length of the Accra for frying.
The perfect accras are golden and crisp on the outside and slightly tender and moist on the inside.
Fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spatula and place on absorbent paper.
Recipe for Haitian pickleez is a available on my blog on a previous post.