A famous Barcelona dish called bacallà a la llauna is one I’ve never seen in Palma — at least not in its authentic version. Yet it is one of the simplest of the salt cod dishes — although it does need a special utensil called a llauna.
On the other hand, there’s nothing very special about this piece of kitchen equipment: a llauna is simply a rectangular baking box made of thin tin, like the one in the picture.
In the 1960s and before, Majorcan housewives used the llauna for baking spongecakes — the rectangular format was convenient for cutting the cake into neat square pieces.
More than a year ago I wanted to write about bacallà a la llauna for Brisas, the weekend magazine of Ultima Hora, so I went looking for it.
I searched all over Palma and made a few phone calls to inland towns but I couldn’t find a place that had it on the menu. So I decided to do my own bacallá a la llauna at home and went to buy a llauna.
But there were no llaunas to be had. I tried the hardware stores in Palma and the outskirts and even had friends look for one in the towns and villages that have market days. But there were no llaunas.
I eventually noticed that Buco Burger were serving certain foods in what appeared to be llaunas. I had a closer look - and they were llaunas.
I told the owner I was looking for a llauna and asked where he had bought his, but it was at Makro, a cash and carry place for the trade. He went over to a shelf by the bar and came back with a llauna which he handed to me. “If it’s only one you want, I’ll let you have this one, but if you want more I’ve seen them at the Chinese bazars.” I got one for €7.50. They are made in Valencia, not Shanghai.
I was able to make bacallà a la llauna at home, so I got the picture I needed for Brisas. For a second picture (I always need two) I went back to Buco Burger and ordered their exquisite fried chicken wings and Panko-style chicken fingers done with French fries — and had them serve it in a llauna.
The chicken wings, as on a previous occasion, were the best I’ve ever had and were worth a 10, and the Panko-coated fingers were deliciously crunchy.
If I ever want another traditional Spanish tin utensil I won’t even look for it in Palma or the inland towns and villages. I’ll head straight to the nearest Chinese bazar.
Buco Burger is very busy and appeals to people in all age groups. I’ve seen mid-teens school kids there, stylish young women, trendy couples, and a few pensioners obviously treating their grandchildren to lunch. The big attraction is good food of its kind at most reasonable prices. The chicken wings are by far the best I have ever been served in a restaurant: so juicy, so tasty, so perfect. The secret of their success (a 10 rating on two occasions) is that they are deep-fried at the exact temperature and time to produce sheer succulence. The crunchy coating on the fingers is superb and the unpeeled french fries are memorable.
Buco Burger, Calle Rubén Darío 8, Palma. Tel:871-048970. This street is at the end of Calle Bonaire, off Avda Jaime III. Closed on Sundays. This restaurant is extremely busy and it’s best to reserve a table even on weekdays for lunch.
· Chicken wings, 8.90 euros
· Chicken fingers, 8.50 euros
· French fries, 3.50 euros
· 2 cañas, 4.50 euros
Total cost with VAT: 25.40 euros.