Before I get insulted by socca aficionados, I would first like to clarify that this specialty is not originally from Monaco. And to be fair and no offense to our French readers, I would even add that it is not originally from Nice either.
What is the origin of socca?
Indeed, this ubiquitous specialty from the French Riviera as well as Toulon where it is called cade, is originally from Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy, as well as Piedmont where it is called farinata. In Italy, chickpea flour based breads like panelle from Sicily, cecina from Tuscany, torta di ceci from Livorno et fainá from Sardinia, are very popular.
This flatbread is nevertheless savored in the Principality where it is a real institution. Just ask Roger, the socca specialist in Monaco since he was 14. While he did not reveal all his secrets, this video helped me complete the information I had gathered when I looked for the recipe of this chickpea flour crepe: the dough must rest for an hour before cooking and the oven should be at the highest temperature possible.
Obviously, it is difficult to obtain a homemade socca that would be validated by a socca purist like Roger… First, because you need a wood-fired oven, but also because you need a large round copper plate that is characteristic of of socca baking.
What are the variants of socca around the world?
This recipe will be reminiscent of other versions such as the Algerian version, known as calentica (كرنتيكا), a word of Spanish origin (calentita) which means “hot”. This recipe is also known under the names of galentita, karantika, karane, kalentika, garantita, or hami (hot). The recipe of the Oranese calentica may include cumin or cheese, whereas the version from Algiers includes eggs and looks like a flan.
This article is dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice on July 14th 2016.
This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in French cuisine, Chef Simon. You can find Chef Simon on his website Chef Simon – Le Plaisir de Cuisiner.
- 2½ cups chickpea flour
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Oil (to grease baking sheets)
- Pour cold water into a bowl and add the chickpea flour gradually while whisking.
- Add salt and olive oil and stir well again. The consistency of the dough is similar to a pancake's.
- Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to maximum temperature (500 F or more) then put in ventilated grill position if the oven has this option, or grill position with door ajar, if not.
- Brush the baking sheet with oil, then pour the dough to a thickness of about ⅛ inch.
- Bake for 7 minutes. Be sure to watch while cooking. Socca should be brown and even slightly burnt in some places. The top should be crisp and the bottom softer.
- Take out of the oven, and immediately cut the socca in pieces of about 2x2 inches or triangles and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
- Eat immediately.