While some people might be inclined to name their restaurant after some sort of food that resonates with them, like ‘Osso Bucco‘, ‘BLT‘, ‘Tamarind‘ or even ‘Dirt Candy‘, I’d have to name my place ‘Fried Zucchini Blossoms’. Yes, I realize that it might not fit on the awning and answering the phone might grow tiresome, but it’s precisely how I feel about them.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms resonate with me.
Fresh from the paper towel, nearly too hot to touch, sprinkled with crunchy sea salt just moments earlier, they taste like summer ought to: bright and crispy and full of whimsy. Oh, and they’re yellow. How many foods can say that?
I grew a variety of summer squash this year called Zucchino da Fiore. The seed was imported from Italy and promised “only a few small fruit but an abundance of flowers.” Apparently no one mentioned this to the four plants I have in the ground now or the errant seeds that have impregnated the soil below my garden gate and the extra pile of cow sh*t by the barn. I’ve plucked off hundreds of their ugly, watery green zucchinos and only a few of the afore-promised perfect, beautiful flowers. My husband likes to use those fat yellow specimens to make his world-famous (okay, a small world…aka moi) Duxelle Stuffed and Fried Squash Blossoms. You need a honker of a blossom for that recipe.
But when the zucchini blossoms are small, closed up or less than 100% perfect (like most of them)…or my husband doesn’t have a spare few hours to painstakingly make his to-die-for dish…or there are ravenous kids floating around the barnyard, I make these.
Unlike my husband’s recipe, Fried Zucchini Blossoms are easy as pie (is pie easy?) and don’t require many ingredients. If you don’t have a garden, then bargain with the blossom lady at your farmer’s market: “And how much for three boxes?” because these will get snapped up in an instant and you’ll be left still holding the skillet, sea salt still clinging to your fingers, wondering why it is you just lovingly made these for everybody but didn’t get one for yourself!
FRIED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS
Serves 4 unless my son is eating with you – then it just serves him
24 zucchini blossoms (or more if your bargaining went well)
4 tbsp All-Purpose flour
1 cup ice water
1 tsp chopped fresh herbs (optional but delightful)
Sea Salt (a little bit chunky is nice)
1 ½ cups olive oil for frying
- Clean the blossoms. Rinse in a bowl of water, shake dry and place on a layer of paper towels. Don’t be insanely meticulous about it – a fried ant or two won’t kill you.
- Put the ice water in a shallow bowl or glass pie dish. Add the flour and mix up with your fingers until all the chunky bits of flour are dissolved. The ice will not completely melt but will as you work. I like to keep my flour/water batter very thin for that “crisp tempura” kind of result. The consistency should be just the tiniest bit thicker than chalky water. You may need to add a few ice cubes as you work because it gets thicker with time. Keeping the batter the right consistency is key here. Too thick and doughy and that’s all you’ll taste. Too thin and watery and the zucchini blossoms won’t fry. So don’t be afraid to adjust.
- If adding herbs, do it now or forever hold your peace.
- Add about 6 of the blossoms in the batter and roll around to coat.
- Pour the olive oil into a medium frying pan or iron skillet. You should have about ¾ of an inch of oil, so if your pan’s bigger than mine, you may need to add more.
- Heat the oil on medium heat until it spatters when you flick a bit of batter in there. DON’T forget about it and let the oil smoke (not that I would know anything about forgetting something on the stove :-)) and, yep, you need to toss it out and start again with fresh oil.
- With a pair of tongs handy (or chopsticks if you’re super-cool), begin frying 3 of the blossoms in the hot oil. You may need to poke them around as they bubble. Watch out for spattering. *Legal advisory: wear chemistry glasses or something.
- Keep dipping and cooking 3 or so at a time. When they’re done they’ll be lightly golden and crispy. One by one remove them with your tongs and place on top of a fresh layer of paper towels.
- Sprinkle sea salt all over them. Serve them just like that at the kitchen counter, which is most often as far as they get in The Muddy Kitchen, or place on a pretty plate and serve at the table.
Take those boots off before you come in here!