A crispy shell, and a tender centre.

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This is based on a recipe idea from here: fried broccoli with a black bean hummus from Slate.com

Rather than doing something quite that fancy, the idea of a crispy coating on a vegetable that can otherwise be a bit on the boring side did appeal. Or to put it another way, if you are going to indulge in something deep fried, surely better to start with something healthy in the first place, no? The result was a satisfyingly tender yet firm veg, and a robust but crispy shell.

I used green cauliflower (yep, they exist!) with a beer batter, and used smaller pieces – although I do want to do a larger version using broccoli – as the pic from the original recipe certainly has a lot of impact!

I served mine with a simple curry powder infused mayo. I think they would be equally nice (less the spices I used in the batter) served with a soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic dipping sauce instead.

Ingredients:
(Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as starters or sides)

Batter:

  • 4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour, plus a little extra for dusting (you can use plain for this though)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp of powder coriander
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • (1/2 tsp of onion and garlic powder – optional)
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) of beer, or sparkling water

Veg:

  • 1  cauliflower (about 575 g),
    or 4 stalks of broccoli – kept whole, or smaller if desired

Curried Mayonnaise

  • 3 tbsp of mayonnaise
  • ~1-2 tsp of curry powder (adjust to taste)

To cook:

  • oil, for deep frying (a pan filled to ~1/3rd full)

Method:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the ingredients for the batter. Start by mixing the dry ingredients, then start to work in the liquid until it is completely incorporated, and you have a smooth batter.  For a crispy batter, it works best if the ingredients are as cold as possible. (I put the flour and beer in the freezer for a little while before starting.)
  2. Heat the oil to around 180C (360F) – a little less if you are going to do large pieces of veg. (You can test how hot it is by dropping a couple of drops of batter in. It should fizzle – but not too aggressively.
  3. Break the cauliflower, or broccoli into your preferred sized clumps – I wouldn’t recommend less than 4 pieces if you start with a whole cauliflower though.
  4. In a bowl, toss the vegetable pieces in flour – so they are all lightly covered, then dredge them through the batter.
  5. When frying, don’t overfill the oil – just fry a few at a time.
  6. You can keep them warm in an oven for a few minutes while you finish the batch, in fact with a little kitchen paper it can help a little extra oil drain away. (I often preheat then turn off the oven as a way of keeping food warm, without it overcooking.)
  7. For the flavoured mayo – simply mix, taste, and adjust.

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