I’m no snob when it comes to fried stuff; I like it all. The crispy bits at the bottom of a barrel of KFC. The browned edges of a pancake that’s been cooked in too much oil (Oops, how did that happen?). A chunk of golden bread on the end of a skewer fresh from the bubbling fondue pot. The fact that I’ve misspelled “fried” as “friend” a dozen times while writing this post is a telling slip-up. There isn’t one molecule in my body that knows how to say no to that glorious, oily crunch.
The garden is a perfect place to find things to fry up in a cauldron of oil. The trick is to fry things that are equally light and frilly in a batter that barely exists. While I’m content to use my cheapest olive oil for frying, salt is an ingredient you shouldn’t skimp on here – something that tastes bright with a flaky texture completes the mouthful. (Maine Sea Salt is my recent obsession after swooning over it at ABC Kitchen.)
“LITTLE FRIED THINGS” – GARDEN FRITURE
3/4 cup of cold water
1 tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of crushed ice at the ready
2 cups of olive oil (or more depending on the size of your pan) for frying
3-4 big handfuls of little things to fry (see below for ideas)
Flaky salt to taste
1. Mix the flour and the cold water together with your fingers in a shallow baking dish (like a pie dish). The batter should be no thicker than chalky water. As you work, you may need to add a bit of the crushed ice to keep the batter thin and cold.
2. If frying larger things like carrots, slice them extremely thin with a mandoline, about 1/32″, so they flash fry instead of “cook” in the oil.
3. Heat the oil in a small pan (preferably cast iron) on a medium high flame until the oil sizzles when you flick a drop of batter into it.
4. Working with tongs in very small batches, add a few pieces of your “things” into the sizzling oil and poke around until each bit is golden and crisp. Be careful because the oil will spatter, especially if too much of the watery batter is clinging to the piece you put it. Don’t crowd the pan or the oil will cool down too much during the process. Remove one piece at a time and place gently onto a few layers of paper towel. Add a few chips of ice to your batter if it gets to thick.
5. Once all your bits are fried up, transfer them to a pretty platter and sprinkle with flaky salt.
Some ideas of little things to fry:
- Parsley stems
- Sage leaves
- Carrots or beets sliced thinly
- Squash blossoms
- Elderflower blossom stems
- Shiso leaf
- Basil leaf
- Spinach leaf
- Fresh chickpeas in the shell
- Baby chard leaf
- Thinly slivered onion
- Mushroom sliced thinly
- Borage blossoms
- Thyme flowers
- Kale leaf
- Thai basil
- Beet greens
Take your boots off before you come in here!