The last of the oca harvest, ready for cooking

On the weekend that we had Jus-Rol Cinnamon Swirls as our mid-gardening snack, I also hatched a plan to use up the last of the oca harvest. Oca is Oxalis tuberosa, mainly grown for its edible tubers, which were (are?) a staple crop in its homeland of the Andes. There they have a large number of different varieties, bred for different culinary uses. This far out of its normal range we have a much more limited choice, although there are people working on that. Oca tubers are a bit like potatoes and generally used in the same way, although their flavour is a little different.

Jus-Rol offered me some vouchers to trial their products, so as well as the Cinnamon Swirls I bought some of their filo pastry. I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and use them to make curried oca parcels, based on a recipe for Easy potato and pea samosas by Anjum Anand. It was the first time I’d attempted any kind of samosa/ pastry parcel, but I thought we could handle the challenge.

I gave the oca a really good wash (which is easier when they’ve soaked a while to loosen the dirt), removed the sprouts (it’s late in oca season, they really wanted to be planted and growing!) and topped and tailed them. We ended up with just over 300g of oca, so we had to halve the recipe.

Oca samosa filling

From then on Ryan was helping, as we fried off the pea and oca filling and tried to get the seasoning right. The next step is the fiddly one – making the pastry parcels – and the key is to use far less filling than you think you should!

Oca parcels ready for the oven

A copious amount of melted butter is used to ensure the layers of pastry stick to each other. At the end we brushed the tops with the leftover melted butter and sprinkled on sesame seeds, although this is an optional extra.

Oca parcels ready to eat

We cooked them according to the recipe, and I think they ended up a little overdone. They were certainly very crispy! We tried to eat them with a knife and fork, which is just a recipe for flying crumbs, and served them with sweet onion chutney.

They weren’t bad for a first attempt, although we didn’t get the seasoning quite right. We’ll have to do some more experimentation next year 🙂

We had some leftover parcels, which I put in the fridge for lunch the next day. To be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to eating them – they hadn’t been that special in the first place, and filo pastry tends to go a bit soggy in the fridge. However… they were nicer cold! The pastry was still crisp, and they were easier to eat as finger food. I had mine with mayonnaise as a drip; Ryan took his to work with a little pot of ketchup.

So they did redeem themselves on the second day, and would make a nice picnic food. So if you’re struggling for ideas on how to cook your ocas, experiment with samosas!

(Other ideas, from Carl Legge, the person I know who has done the most culinary experimentation with UK ocas, include warm oca salad, oca hommity pie and oca pizza).

How do you eat yours?