“Don’t make dinner tonight,” Emmanuel told me earlier. “I’m making ñoquis.”
“You’re making what?!”
“Ñoquis,” he replied. “It’s kind of a potato pasta or potato dumpling.”
We couldn’t wait to try it.
This evening Emmanuel gave us our ñoquis-making class. What a great tradition!
“Argentines traditionally make ñoquis on the 29th of every month,” he told us as he dumped boiled potatoes out of the pot onto a large wooden cutting board. “We have what is called a ñoquiada where we invite people over to our house and we make ñoquis. Traditionally, the host of the ñoquiada places money under everyone’s plate – they use that money to buy groceries the next day.”
Ñoquis are made with mashed potatoes and flour, so are very cheap to make. They are made at the end of the month, when money is tight and people await their next paycheck.
To start the process, spread flour on a large cutting board and dump cold boiled potatoes on it. With a fork, smash the potatoes until they are very finely mashed.
Sprinkle flour on top of the potatoes, then start gently kneading to mix in the flour. When the dough is sticky, add a bit more flour. Keep kneading until the dough is about the consistency of playdough. You have added too much flour if the dough falls apart when you try to roll snakes.
Taking a handful or two of dough, roll it with your hands into a snake. Keep rolling until the snake is about the diameter of your pinkie.
Using a gentle touch, cut pieces about 2 cm long off the snake. Sprinkle with a small amount of flour to prevent them from sticking together.
The next step is quite tricky and takes some practice. Place one piece of ñoquis at the base of the prongs of a fork. Using your thumb, gently roll the ñoquis along the fork, pressing hard enough to force the dough between the prongs, but not hard enough to cut through the dough. When you reach the end of the fork, the piece of ñoquis should fall off the fork with prong indentations on one side and a small cup on the other.
Very gently, place the ñoquis in boiling water, and stir gently to prevent them from sticking together. Allow them to boil for a few minutes – when they float, they are done.
Serve ñoquis a la crema by stirring in butter and cream, or use whatever pasta sauce is your favorite. Pesto with chicken is especially delicious!