It is ‘siman di kultura’ (culture week) here on Curaçao, which is a week filled with cultural activities. Since eating is one of our favorite activities, a lot of traditional dishes are being cooked up like ayaka (meat tamales wrapped in banana leave), kabritu stoba (goat stew), sult (pickled pigs ears and feet) and funchi.
Funchi is much like Italian polenta or American grits, into that cornmeal is poured and stirred into boiling water and seasoned with butter and salt. Taken directly from African cuisine, funchi is still cooked in a traditional way. It is stirred with a funchi stick (palu di funchi) and the funchi is done when the stick will stay up straight in the pot.
You can eat funchi as it is, seasoned maybe with some fresh herbs and grated cheese. I personally like my funchi fried so I let it harden, slice up the funchi into fries and fry them in hot oil. It is not just me, everybody loves these delicious fries. They have been on the menu of Thelma & Louise for years. Make sure to serve them with pika mayo.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 7 mins
- Total Time: 37 minutes
- Yield: 4-6
- Category: Funchi Fries
- Cuisine: Caribbean
- 5 cup (1.2L) water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cup (200g) yellow corn meal, sifted
- 1/2 cup (50g) shredded parmesan
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
- 1/2 stick (50g) butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup (200g) all purpose flour
- Extra: a small baking sheet, buttered.
- Bring the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan and add the salt. Slowly add the corn meal while whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes, then switch to a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula). Let simmer over medium heat, while frequently stirring, until the funchi pulls away from the sides of the pan, 20-25 minutes. Stir in the parmesan, rosemary and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread the funchi out on the baking sheet into a 1cm/0.5″-thick layer. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Let cool slightly, then cover and refridgerate until cold and set, at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil to 375F/180C. Cut the polenta into fries and dust them with flour to prevent them from sticking. Add the fries to the hot oil and fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Just before serving, fry the fries a second time for 1-2 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve immediately.
You can (carefully!) crisp some fresh rosemary in the hot oil and sprinkle it over the fries