Pipirrana de Jaen is a salad I’m bringing you with pride and no prejudice, as it’s original from the region where I was born and my family comes from. I don’t know what you think of the word “Pipirrana”, but it always sounded funny to me as a kid, as it’s composed of the words “pipi” -wee- and “rana” – frog-, so it means something like frog’s wee.
A salad with that name may not sound appetising but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a very nice salad, perfect for the scorching days of Andalusian Summer, when tomatoes and peppers are in the best moment and your body is demanding something light, refreshing and full of vitamins.
The two peculiarities of Pipirrana de Jaen are the dressing, made with garlic and egg yolk; and the big amount of water used in the dressing, which makes this salad a kind of soup or watery salad. People use to enjoy it by soaking bread in this liquid. However, I’m not a big fan of having a soupy salad, so I’m reducing the amount of water used. You can still soak your bread in it but you won’t need a spoon to eat it. 🙂
How to make Pipirrana de Jaen
Ingredients (serves 2, as a side):
4 medium tomatoes
1/2 medium white onion
1 medium Italian green pepper (not the bell stuff)
1 can of tuna in olive or sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves
5 or 6 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of white wine, sherry, apple or cider vinegar
5 tablespoons of water
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Scald the tomatoes in boiling water from the kettle for two minutes. Transfer them to a bowl with cold water after that time. Peel them and chop them in medium size cubes. Do not discard the seeds and keep the juices as the secret of this salad is the tomato juices working as part of the dressing.
Wash and cut the green pepper in pieces the same size of the tomatoes, discarding the seeds.
Chop the onion in small pieces.
Cook the egg for 6 minutes after the water starts to boil. We need the yolk to be hard and firm, not runny at all but not over cooked. You will know that your yolk is over cooked when the outside of it has got a greyish colour.
Put all the veggies in a bowl and set them aside. Drain the tuna and add it to the veggies.
Once the eggs are cooked and sufficiently cooled down, let’s make the dressing, the keystone of a good Pipirrana de Jaen. Put the garlic clove inside your mortar with a bit of salt and black pepper and mash it until you have a paste.
Peel and cut the eggs in half, put the yolks inside the mortar, chop the whites and add them to the chopped veggies.
Mash the yolks. Once you get a paste, add the olive oil to the mortar little by little, mixing it with the cooked yolk and garlic and scraping the insides of the mortar.
Add a tablespoon of vinegar and 5 tablespoons of water to this sauce and mix until everything is well mixed. Maybe you can get better results if you shake this dressing in a jar.
Pour the dressing over the veggies, mix altogether and adjust the salt and pepper.
Keep your Pipirrana de Jaen inside the fridge until the moment of being served.
This salad goes amazingly with a Spanish omelette, croquetas or chicken escalope with fries. That’s the taste of the summer in Jaén, when the sun fries a land riddled with olive trees and the cicadas sing till extenuation. Salud!