Last week I went on a solo vacation to Nice for 4 days. I’ve been in the library all summer, and I am about to start a new job, so I needed to relax a little. An exciting fact about Nice is that it is the birthplace of socca, the magical chickpea pancakes that I have been so excited about before. I finally, at long last, got to eat proper socca!
This lead to the realization, of course, that my own socca was not particularly authentic. I have been panfrying it, and making it thin like a pancake, but the real deal was thicker and baked at super high heat in a woodfired oven.
I had socca twice – first at a place called Chez René Socca in the old town. It was served in a messy heap, rather thick and somewhat mushy. Like it wasn’t quite cooked through. I didn’t swoon. The second place I went was another story. Chez Pipo, in the Vieux Port area, was highlighted by David Lebovitz as the best place in Nice for socca. I think he knew what he was talking about. OMG so delicious!
It was served like this, in neat, crispy wedges. It was quite salty, which was probably one of the reasons why it was so good. I wolfed down the entire plate, even after having already sampled their pissaladière. I wanted to order more.
I wondered how they managed to give it that crispiness, and the uneven surface, so as I was leaving the restaurant I peaked over the little barrier separating the restaurant from the cooking area. I saw that when the socca was about half cooked, it was taken out of the oven. A guy then used what looked like a butter knife to “ruffle” the entire surface very thoroughly, before putting it back into the oven. Very interesting.
As for me, I am sticking to my pan-fried fake socca for now, mainly because I don’t have an appropriate oven dish to bake socca in. For dinner today, I made a simple batter of 1/2 cup each of chickpea flour and water (sifting the flour to avoid lumps), with a bit of herbs, salt and oil added in. Then, I stirred in the leftover cooked millet from Friday’s dinner. I cooked it in a generously oiled frying pan, and I didn’t even break it as I flipped it. Really tasty!