Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fried Zucchini

Fried zucchini in our house used to mean deep fried zucchini, similar to the fried zucchini Ed and I first had at Galena Street East in Aspen in the 70's. It became a mid summer treat when zucchini overflowed our garden. Last fall Ed and I had a delicious variation at Evoo in Somerville which I tired to reverse engineer as closely as possible.  Both recipes follow.

FRIED ZUCCHINI


I usually serve this as an appetizer as it is best when it is cooked in small batches and eaten immediately. Depending on the number of people I am serving, Ed or I will cook several batches, serving each batch as soon as it is cooked, before moving on to the main course. I use fairly small squash for this (6-8 inches long and ideally no more than 2" diameter); the diameter is the critical dimension as the green skin helps keep the squash crisp while cooking. While I am sure this is "more properly done" using an egg batter as well as flour, I like this version.



Cut

1 small to medium zucchini squash/per person
into ~3 inch lengths by 1/4 to 3/8 inch square.

Place all of the cut squash in a bowl and toss with:

2 t salt per squash.

Let stand for an hour; the salt will suck some of the moisture out of the squash.

Heat:

Canola oil (amount per fryer instruction) in a deep fryer until it reaches 350 degrees.

Over the years I have used (1) "Fry Baby", until the plastic cover got left on when I plugged in the Fry Baby and melted into the stored oil. (2) Tech Grill frying well; works well but requires a lot of oil and makes cooking on the other half of the grill dicey. (3) A pot with a deep fryer basket over a single outdoor gas burner (photo left). Our current preferred choice, this keeps the cooking out of the kitchen and not a lot of oil is required. Of course, given a good exhaust fan, frying can be done on an indoor range. An infrared thermometer (upper right in photo) is an easy to track oil temperature

While the oil is heating, rinse the squash throughly to remove most of the salt and then dry squash pieces well between clean dish towels.

For each squash prepared, in a small brown paper bag** place:

2 T  flour
2 t Italian Herbs (this is a lot but really makes the dish; I usually don't measure and sometimes I think I use even more)

Shake well then add a handful of the dried squash to the bag and shake again. Remove squash from the bag using a mesh spoon so that excess flour is left in the bag,* place squash in the fryer basket and place basket in the hot oil. Cook until the squash is nicely browned then remove from oil, shaking basket to eliminate excess oil, place squash on paper towels, blot off excess oil from all sides and serve immediately.

OCT 2012 - FOR CRISPIER SQUASH:    When I was preparing the squash a few nights ago I removed the floured squash and put it on a plate (photo above).  It sat for a few minutes and I noticed that in many places the flour coating had gotten wet and sticky. I returned the squash to the bag with flour and shook again, making sure to separate the pieces that stuck together .  We found that this squash, with the second coating (photo below) was much crispier (photo  right).

I also tried shaking the squash in the flour bag, letting it sit for several minutes and then shaking it again.  This worked pretty well too (photo right)



** September 2013:  Finally the lights went on and I substituted a covered plastic container for the paper bag.  I put about half a batch (~6-8 pieces) of squash in the container, cover and shake gently.  Still do two separate coatings as described above (October 2012). I keep the left over flour and Italian seasonings in the container to re-use next time.





PAN FRIED ZUCCHINI WITH SAGE

This is my current favorite, ever since I had a similar version at Evoo last fall. The sage is not optional, it really makes the dish. This is good served as a plated hors d'oeuvre or as a vegetable accompanying a main course.

Serves 4, scale accordingly. Slice

2 medium or 4 small zucchini squash into coins ~3/8  inch thick

Place the cut squash in a bowl and toss with:

1 T salt

Let stand for an hour; the salt will suck some of the moisture out of the squash. Rinse the squash throughly to remove most of the salt and then dry well with clean dish towels.

Dip the squash sequentially in saucers/small dishes containing:

1/3 c milk

1/3 c flour

1 egg, well beaten (Reddi Egg or = also works, start with 1/4 c)

1/3 c panko (I use the Whole Foods spinach-chive and/or lemon-herb)

Add more ingredients to any of the dipping dishes if necessary.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with:

Olive oil and heat until hot.

Gently place the squash in the oil and cook until bottom surfaces are well browned, carefully turn squash and add a handful of sage leaves. Cook until the sage leaves are crisp but not burned , the other sides of the squash are also browned and the squash feels tender when a fork is inserted in the center.

Serve garnished with fresh sage.

VARIATION:

Use greeen tomatoes or red tomatoes instead of squash (pan fried version only).

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