Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RECIPE - Içá Farofa

Farofa is a recipe category rather than one specific dish when it comes to Brazilian cooking. Farofas are usually a mixture of toasted manioc flour, some sort of fat, plus optionally some other flavoring ingregredient such as onion, garlic, bacon, herbs or spices. They are indispensible accompaniments to Brazilian churrascos (barbeques) and meat stews and range from simple combinations of manioc flour and oil to complex creations with long ingredient lists.

The farofa featured in today's post, Içá Farofa, would be fairly garden-variety if it weren't for one thing - the added flavoring ingredient consists of the abdominal segments of a species of flying ant found only in Brazil. (Click here for more on içá.) Since there is no commercial market for içá outside of roadside stands in rural Brazil and since readers of the blog are unlikely to capture and dismember enough flying ants to make this recipe, we're posting it for its value as a piece of Brazilian culinary history and cultural anthropology. But for those reasons alone, Içá Farofa is worthy of a place on Flavors of Brazil.

NB. We've never tasted Içá Farofa and therefore cannot attest to its gastronomic qualities. Some of the written material on this dish suggests that the flavor of the flying ants resembles that of shrimp. If anyone who's reading this post has ever tried it, please leave a comment and let the blog's readers (and writers) know what it tastes like. Thanks and obrigado!
RECIPE - Içá Farofa
Serves 4

4 cups içás (flying ants)
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp lard or 3 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
2 cups manioc flour (farinha)
Prepare the içás by removing the legs, wings, and the head and thorax segments - retain only the enlarged abdomen segments.Put these segments in a mixing bowl with water to cover and let soak for 30 to 40 minutes.

Drain the segments well. In a large heavy-duty saucepan or cast-iron frying pan melt and heat the lard, or heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the segments and cook, stirring constantly until toasted brown and crispy. Add the manioc flour by 1/4 cups, mixing in each addition before continuing.

Remove from heat, season with the salt, and serve immediately, accompanied by strong coffee.

Recipe translated and adapted from Viagem Gastronômica através do Brazil by Caloca Fernandes.


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