I have cautiously started to set seeds, the glasshouse has been scrubbed and is ready for the new growing season. There’s not much in there as of yet as the rumour of the return of the ‘Beast from the East’ is holding me back.
Rumour or no rumour, nature is beetling along; the daffodils are opening, the peach tree is blossoming and the frogs are contentedly ‘ribbeting’ away in the pond laying their spawn. The sound of the frogs is a proper affirmation that spring is here.
Nature might be on the move but the growth is pretty slow. There are still plenty of green things to eat and we’re still gallantly munching our way through our kohlrabi crop – I have discovered that kohlrabi makes excellent fritters.
Fritters are actually incredibly versatile, they’re eaten all around the world – pakoras in India, falafels in the Middle East, tempura in Japan, smoutebollen in Holland…the list is endless, sweet and savoury. Fritters can be anything – meat, fish, fruit or vegetable that has been dunked in batter and fried in oil; the word comes from the Latin word ‘frictura’, which translates as fried, and fried means crispy which can only mean delicious.
There’s always something in the vegetable basket which can be frittered – carrots, squash, celeriac, cauliflower, broccoli, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, cabbage…they all transform into a delightfully crispy dinner at very little cost and generally we’d have all the ingredients in the house.
Basically to make a vegetable fritter you need flour, baking powder and eggs. All other add-ins are optional – herbs, spices etc. The flour can be regular flour or a combo of regular flour and cornflour for extra crispiness. Rice flour works well especially mixed with cornflour and gram flour (ground chickpeas) offers added protein.
Making vegetable fritters is a bit like making pancakes, the same kind of base but instead of frying straight batter, grated vegetables are stirred through. As always there are a few tips for success.
The batter should not be too runny, just enough to bind the ingredients together. There should be just enough to coat the vegetables, ie more vegetables than batter.
The flour shouldn’t be strong flour, as gluten isn’t required; regular household flour is better and a little added baking powder helps create bubbles, which keep the fritters light.
Brighten up the batter mix with the addition of fresh herbs and lemon zest
Any vegetable that is wet after being grated needs to have the excess liquid removed – just pat with kitchen towels or roll in a clean t-towel and give a little squeeze, then continue with the recipe.
The oil for frying can be any vegetable oil, it just needs to be hot so heat the oil before frying. You should hear everything sizzle as it hits the pan and maintain the sizzle whilst cooking. If the fritter’s are browning too quickly reduce the heat but not to the the point of no action.
And one last thing. Fritters like to be dunked so serve with mayonnaise, yoghurt or any salsa of your choice on the side and you’re guaranteed happy diners.
• 400g grated vegetable – kohlrabi, carrot, celeriac, parsnip – any combo
• 1 onion, peeled and grated
• 1 tbs chopped dill, fennel or chives
• 1 lemon, finely zested
• 35g plain flour or rice flour
• 35g cornflour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• half tsp salt
• 2 eggs
Sift the flours, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
Lightly whisk the eggs then mix with the flours.
Stir the grated lemon zest and onion into the batter.
Dry the grated vegetables if they are wet. Kohlrabi will need a squeeze – just gather handfuls and squeeze like washing. And the excess liquid will come out.
Stir the grated vegetables into the batter. It will look quite vegetable predominant but they soon relax to become a scoop-able batter.
Heat a large frying pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom. Turn the heat to medium then add the batter a spoonful at a time, flatten with the back of the spoon. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes keeping an eye on the temperature. It’s a balancing act. On one side you want crispy fritters which aren’t burnt and on the other you don’t want soggy bottoms so make sure you can hear a little action.
Good luck and bon appetit!
Lettercollum Kitchen Project,