Potato bombas are tasty little stuffed mashed potato balls that you can find in Spanish tapas bars.
I’ll be honest, although I’ve lived in Spain for three years, I’ve never had a bomba.
This is because they’re generally filled with meat. But considering that they’re basically giant croquettes, you could potentially fill them with anything you like, and that idea is what has given rise to my vegan potato bombas.
The days in Barcelona are just now at that perfect temperature where you can be outside without a sweater but not yet so stiflingly hot that no one could bear the thought of putting on clothes and leaving the air conditioned apartment.
That means for these few weeks of neither hot nor cold it’s the perfect time to enjoy some tapas and a cold beer on a sunny patio. When we go out for tapas we normally stick to the usual patatas bravas or padron peppers, but potato bombas are equally typical tapas that can be found around Barcelona bars.
Since I’ve never ordered a bomba in a bar, it was my husband who introduced me to them and suggested it could be a good dish to veganize.
It’s true – potato bombas are very similar to Italian arancini, those little stuffed rice balls in marinara sauce that perhaps you’re already familiar with.
Bombas are even easier. Instead of rice, mashed potatoes, which are so soft and malleable you can easily fold them around your choice of any kind of filling.
What’s interesting about potato bombas is that it’s one of the few Spanish dishes that actually carries a little bit of spice.
Chili and cayenne pepper are not ingredients that you usually find in Spanish food but, much to my delight, they’re called for in potato bomba recipes both in the filling and in the sauce.
I’ve chosen to go with the third, which if you know about aquafaba (i.e. chickpea brine), is really easy to whip up in a couple of minutes. Chop up a chili pepper or a few drops of tabasco and you’re good to go!
Makes about 9 bombas
- 800 grams (28 oz) potatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Half a small onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 200 grams (7 oz) meaty mushroom of choice (oyster, shiitake, Portobello, etc), finely chopped
- Half a red pepper, finely diced
- 1 small hot pepper, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 2 tablespoons white wine (optional)
- 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups breadcrumbs (I used panko but any kind will work)
- 1 cup soy or other plant milk
- Oil for frying
- 3 tablespoons aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup oil (I like to use half olive oil and half sunflower oil, you can use the oil you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Tabasco, to taste
- Boil the potatoes whole and with the skin on until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Once cool enough to handle, peel and mash them adding 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add the oil and onions. Fry gently until soft and translucent then add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the chopped mushrooms and fry, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned. Add the red pepper and fry for a couple of minutes until beginning to soften. Now add the hot pepper, oregano, thyme, paprika and sprinkle over the flour. Allow the flour to cook out, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Finally, add the crushed tomatoes and cook gently until the sauce is thick and reduced – 5 to 10 minutes.
- Take a small handful of mashed potatoes and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place about a teaspoonful of the mushroom filling in the centre and close the mashed potatoes around it, forming a ball. The bomba should be between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball. Continue forming all the bombas in this way.
- Begin heating the oil for frying in a small pan over high heat. I used enough oil to cover half the bomba so that I only had to flip it once. Roll each bomba in breadcrumbs, then plant milk and again in the breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown, turning them as necessary to achieve even colour on all sides. Remove to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- You can make the sauce using either a food processor or immersion blender. First combine the aquafaba with the garlic until the garlic is minced. Slowly drizzle in the oil with the blender running the whole time until the mayonnaise is thick. Mix through the remaining ingredients.