Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Recipe #20: Fried vegetables with spiced beer batter


Beer batter is light and crisp. It is very easy to prepare; spices can be added to it to give it greater complexity. When it is fried, it seems much less oily than normal batter.

Ingredients
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Capsicum
  • Long beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cup mushroom
  • Chili (red and/or green)
  • Japanese tofu (white or yellow; firm)
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Beer
  • Za'atar
  • Black pepper (coarsely cracked)
  • Sea-salt

Preparation
Beat egg in a bowl then add flour and mix. Keep adding flour until a very thick pasty (dough-like) consistency is reached. Then pour in beer, very little at a time so that it froths and mix thoroughly. The beer will thin the mix; if it gets too thin, sprinkle more flour while mixing until it is viscous enough to nicely coat a spatula without dripping. Add za'atar, black pepper and salt to taste.
Slice vegetables into chunky pieces about 5 cm by 1 - 2 cm each.
Boil water in a saucepan and cook slices of potatoes and carrots. Peel a few small cloves of garlic and boil them as well. Don't overcook or they will become too soft. Once ready, allow to cool then dip them in batter mix.
Heat olive oil in a fry-pan. You'll only need just enough oil to cover base of pan.
Gently place battered potatoes and carrots in simmering hot oil. Allow bottom to brown then turn over and brown other side. When ready, remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Do likewise for other vegetables, cooking them in small portions without overcrowding.
As for mushroom: stuff small pieces of boiled garlic cloves in between veil and stem then dip entire mushroom in batter. Cut protruding stem down so that it is level with veil. If mushroom is large (over 5 cm in diameter), ensure that there is enough oil in which to immerse it (otherwise tilt pan at an angle so as to allow more oil to cover mushroom). Also, ensure that the oil is hot enough to quickly brown the batter covering the mushroom into a thin crust without allowing the moisture inside it to escape, thus sealing its flavour.
Japanese tofu is easily obtained in blocks the size of a block of butter with a cross section of around 5 cm x 4 cm. Slice block into pieces about 1 cm thick. Allow to drip dry, then gently immerse in batter completely before placing into fry-pan. You'll need a flat spatula to lift and turn over the tofu to brown both sides. When golden brown, remove and place on plate with other cooked vegetables.

To Serve
This makes a complete and balanced meal on its own. A dipping sauce such as mild chili or sweet chili makes a good accompaniment. Or yogurt chutney. Otherwise, just have it plain as the spiced beer batter is already delicately tasty!

Complement with a pale ale, or if wine is preferred, a light Frascati or Muscadet.

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