Spanish Tortilla Recipe

Transcription (translation below): “Corta las patatas y la cebolla en trozos pequeños y fríelos en aceite de oliva. Revuelve los huevos y mézclalos con las patatas y la cebolla. Aquí está la parte más difícil: revuelve la tortilla usando un plato encima de la sartén.”

One of the most traditional meals in Spanish culture is the tortilla. When most Americans hear the word “tortilla,” they think of the flour or corn tortillas of Latin and South America. However, a Spanish tortilla is made from potatoes, eggs, and onion (optional). The recipe is simple and passed on from grandmothers or mothers to the younger generation. I was taught to cook tortilla by my friend and have translated a more detailed version of the process below.

The ratio of the ingredients depends on the number of people eating the tortilla and the size of the frying pan used to cook it. For a medium size tortilla that serves two people, use two medium or one large tortilla, one medium yellow onion, and three eggs. Cut the potatoes and onion into small cubes, then place then in a frying pan. Fill the frying pan with enough olive oil that the onions and potatoes are completely covered. Fry the potatoes and onions on high heat until the potatoes are soft and break apart easily and the onions are tender. Move the fried potatoes and onions into a separate bowl. Transfer the excess oil into a separate jar. Scramble the eggs and mix them with the potatoes and onions. Place the mixture back in the frying pan and cook until slightly golden brown on one side. The most complicated part of the recipe involves placing a large plate on the top of the frying pan, then flipping the tortilla onto the plate. Once the tortilla is on the plate, add more olive oil to the frying pan and slide the tortilla onto the pan.

The closest approximation in America to a Spanish tortilla would be an omelet, but tortillas are eaten for lunch or dinner as opposed to breakfast. Tortillas are cooked throughout the year and eaten as a main entree or as a side dish. The most common way to eat tortilla is as a tapa, or small dish, with jamón (ham). Many of the Spanish houses that I have visited have a jar of tortilla oil next to the stove since tortillas are a staple to many Spaniards.