I think I have finally conquered my fear of the hot oil, thanks to our nifty new Salton deep-fryer (never again shall I have to worry about burning the kitchen down for a piece of crumbed camembert).
The camembert hasn’t yet happened, but the love-meal of last night was a veritable fried bonanza – and this is the best thing about doing it right: a fried meal can actually be clean!
First, there were the indispensable prawn crackers, which begin life as dull little pieces of something akin to plastic, or fish-food for big people. Lower them into the oil and watch them come to life. This is almost more exciting than popcorn. (A note: don’t put too many in at once, these things really grow).
Then there were springrolls. I had been planning to go the whole I-can-do-it-myself route and make a filling to fold in wrappers myself, but ended up spending too much time marveling at all the weird and wonderful things in the Chinese supermarket that I ran out of time and got a bag of frozen springrolls. But damn, they were lovely, fried to a perfect crispness that hung around, even after cooling down. (To dip: Thai sweet chilli sauce).
Next: Thai fishcakes, made with fresh Cape salmon and a-plenty red curry paste. Perhaps a little too heavy-handed on the curry paste, if there must be critique, but these were delicious morsels also, and went particularly nicely with the green mango salad.
Less successful was the tempura (also Cape salmon), but that was the fault of using what clearly wasn’t the best batter recipe. More on that next time, when it’s perfect.
Possibly the greatest success was dessert. The fabled, indeed mythological, deep-fried ice-cream! Well, I had heard about it for years, I knew it exists, but I’d never tried it. Until last night. Of course I tweaked a little: the ice-cream wasn’t really ice-cream, but home-made frozen yoghurt (apricot and cardamom). The crunch: a layer of ground almonds, followed by beaten egg, followed by crumbs, then back in the freezer to get firm again. After an hour or so of digesting all the other fried stuff, fire up the oil again, and melt a little dark chocolate with a splash of rum, then lower the ice-cream balls for about 60 seconds, until you just get a sense that the whole thing is about to fail. Result: righteous! Only the very outside layer of ice-cream has started to melt, and the crust is crunchy. The whole sensation is like eating a fresh thin waffle with ice-cream and chocolate sauce.
The only scary thing now is that I fear I will never stop until I’ve fried everything. Except Pepsi, and the philosophe.