While the aim to keep authentic recipes authentic is indeed a respectable one, there’s no doubt it can be quite exciting when a classic dish gets a twist – the result sometimes turns out to be absolutely delicious! I think the important thing is to treat the original recipe with respect. After all, without it, there would be no twist.
Tortilla de patatas originates from Spain, and that’s where I was lucky enough to first taste it. It was so good I think I ate some three days in a row from three different locations at three different mealtimes of the day. Also called a Spanish omelette in English, it is basically a deceptively simple potato omelette. Sometimes it has onion in it, sometimes not, but if you’re looking for a good three-ingredient recipe to start with I’d recommend watching this video. The addition of woody herbs like thyme and rosemary as well as Korean red chile paste just seemed to make sense in my head and boy oh boy does it make sense once you taste it.
how to make this tortilla
makes enough for 4 (or 2 hungry people)
• 4 medium waxy potatoes
• 1 large onion, yellow or white
• 4-6 cloves of garlic (4 if large, 6 if small)
• any combination of your favourite woody herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, bay), dried and/or fresh*, about a small palmful in total
• 2 teaspoons gochujang
• 4 eggs
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt
• chili flakes
*as a general rule, 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs will be as potent as 1 teaspoon of dried ones; here, a small palmful of herbs gives about 6 to 8 Tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs
1. Thinly slice the potatoes lengthwise. Then do the same with the onion, cutting it in half lengthwise first, then across each half. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves.
2. In a frying pan on medium heat, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, add in the potatoes and a pinch of salt. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently stir the potatoes around so as to coat them in the oil.
3. We don’t want to the potatoes to get any colour on them, so as soon as you hear them starting to fry, add in a generous splash of hot water from your kettle and swirl it around. Repeat two or three more times as the water cooks the potatoes and evaporates away, adding the herbs in between. I used 2 teaspoons of dried thyme, 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon of my favourite dried herb blend, and a small pinch of dried sage.
4. Add the onion and garlic to the pan along with an additional glug of olive oil and small sprinkle of salt, topping up with a bit of hot water as it cooks the onion and potato and evaporates (as in step 3). In between additions of water, swirl in the gochujang, making sure to coat the potatoes and onion well.
5. While the potatoes and onion are cooking, crack and whisk the eggs in a large bowl along with a small pinch of salt.
6. Once the potatoes and onions are cooked (and all the water has evaporated), after about 10-15 minutes, remove them from the heat. Add a small spoonful to the eggs first – this will help warm them up and prevent them from scrambling when you add the rest of the hot ingredients. Add another spoonful of the potato mixture, stir it through, then pour in all the rest. Gently stir together and let the egg and potato mixture sit for 5-15 minutes so the all the flavours have some time to get acquainted.
7. To a small pan (about 20cm/8in diameter) on medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to cover its bottom. Once the oil is hot, pour in the egg and potato mixture and use your spatula or wooden spoon to flatten and level the mixture into the pan. Top with a light sprinkling of fresh herbs. After a couple of minutes, reduce the heat to medium and let cook undisturbed until the sides have set and look golden, and the top is still slightly runny. This will take around 15 minutes in total.
8. To finish cooking the tortilla, it needs to be flipped. Cover the pan with a large upturned plate, hold the handle near the pan and press the plate downwards, then confidently flip the tortilla out of the pan and onto the plate before gently sliding it back into the pan. Use your spatula or spoon to tuck in the edges and let cook for a further 5 minutes or so until the bottom is set.
9. Flip the tortilla again to remove it from the pan. Garnish the top with freshly chopped herbs (I had rosemary on hand), extra virgin olive oil, flaky salt and chili flakes.
10. Cut into wedges and enjoy! Pairs well with a green salad, and can be enjoyed hot as well as cold, as a main dish, snack or appetizer, at any time of day.
If you don’t have any gochujang on hand but have another type of spicy, umami paste like harissa or ‘nduja, I say go for it.
Want to watch this recipe being made? Click here for a quick step-by-step!