So today we’ll be talking about Colombian buñuelos, which just like the Colombian natilla, cannot be forgotten during the holiday season. They’re completely inseparable, made for each other, eaten both as one, and yet, not really because buñuelos are pretty much eaten all year round. Weird, huh? Colombians love their buñuelos which are served any time of year and any time of day. They even have street stands dedicated to making and selling buñuelos in every city. Yes, we are crazy about these round, fried cheesy, doughy balls.
And how are they made? Well, remember how in my last post I told you that Colombians use corn flour, in this case cornstarch, for almost everything? Yeah, they use it to make buñuelos as well. They also use a special type of cheese called queso costeño which can only be found in Colombia. It’s a semi-solid, salty type of cheese that gives these cheese fritters that special flavor. Now, if you don’t live in Colombia, I’m pretty sure you’re already wondering where you can get this cheese. The answer is, you can’t. But in this recipe I have an alternative, which is the whole purpose of putting it up on the blog. I have tried all kinds of cheeses to make buñuelos and I finally got it down to two different types, queso fresco (fresh cheese), which is a semi-soft Mexican cheese and feta cheese, a crumbly, aged, Greek cheese that has a very strong flavor. The combination of these two cheeses gives Colombian buñuelos the unique flavor found in queso costeño.
Now that we have the cheese issue out of the way, we have to talk about the perfect frying temperature. When you ask a Colombian this question they will say “not too hot, not too cold”, which never helped me at all. I tried low, medium low, medium and even medium hot just in case but my buñuelos always exploded after putting them in the hot oil, leaving them deformed with these weird looking tails. I mean, they were delicious, but kind of scary. So after years and years (make that almost 15) of guessing the correct temperature, I decided to go “high tech” and use a deep fryer. I tried setting it at different degrees and found that the magic number is… (drumroll please) 325°F!!! Which according to Google, that’s 163°C for those living outside of the US. No more guessing and no more freaky looking buñuelos, 325 is the ideal number for my buñuelos. I suggest you try to fry them at different temperatures to see which temperature works best for you.
But if you don’t have a deep fryer you can still try to see if you can get that “not too hot, not too cold” temperature with a big pot on your stove starting at medium low. They say the trick is to put a small ball of dough in the hot oil and wait 30 seconds. If the ball rises before 30 seconds, the oil is too hot. If it takes longer than 30 seconds, the oil is too cold. Try it, it might work for you!
COLOMBIAN BUÑUELOSIngredientsApprox. 12-14 buñuelos
- 1½ cups (150 g) grated queso fresco
- ½ cup (50 g) grated feta cheese
- 1 cup (120 g) cornstarch
- ½ cup (60 g) tapioca starch (cassava, tapioca, mandioca starch)
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
1. Mix the first eight ingredients until you get a soft, smooth dough. If you find that it is too dry, add one tablespoon of warm milk at a time until you get the right consistency.2. Add the baking powder and knead the though until it is well mixed.3. Shape the buñuelos by making small balls, about 1 inch(2.5 cm) in diameter.4. Heat up the oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 325°F (163°C) and add a few buñuelos at a time, leaving enough room for them to float around.5. Fry for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 6. Drain with paper towels. Serve hot.
**Note: The ideal temperature for frying is between 350ºF (180ºC) – 375ºF (190ºC). However, the room temperature, altitude and weather can many times affect the outcome. For this reason you will have to raise or reduce the frying temperature from time to time for best results.
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