Deep-fried artichokes and lemon with mint and anchovy dressing

Deep-fried artichokes and lemon with mint and anchovy dressing

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

I like to deep-fry things in the manner of Italian fritto misto – it is a lovely informal way of mixing and matching ingredients. Over the years I have deep-fried almost everything, from little anchovies to soft ripe figs! A good accompanying sauce is essential. This sharp, salty dressing is a perfect foil for crispy battered artichokes – try serving it with other deep-fried vegetables too.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 small, tender artichokes
1 lemon, juiced
2 unwaxed lemons
corn oil, for deep-frying

Batter

Quantity Ingredient
375g plain flour
pinch sea salt
125ml olive oil
80ml sparkling water
1 egg white

Anchovy and mint dressing

Quantity Ingredient
5 good-quality anchovy fillets, packed in salt or olive oil
bunch mint, leaves only
2-2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
120ml extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. First make the batter. Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and make a well in the middle. Pour in the olive oil, whisking well to combine, then whisk in the sparkling water. In another bowl, whisk the egg white to firm peaks, then fold into the batter. (You can make this batter a few hours ahead.)
  2. For the dressing, rinse the anchovies well if they are packed in salt, then drain and pat dry. Place the anchovies in a blender, along with the mint leaves and 2 tbsp wine vinegar. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feeder tube until it is all incorporated. Taste and add a little more wine vinegar if you like; you shouldn’t need any salt.
  3. To prepare the artichokes, trim away the darker tough outer leaves with a sharp knife and trim and peel the stem. Cut off the tops of the artichoke leaves at the point where their colour becomes darker. Now cut each artichoke in half lengthways and remove the hairy choke. If not using immediately, immerse in a bowl of water acidulated with the lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring. Slice the lemons into fairly thin rounds (but not so thin that they will fall apart when deep-fried).
  4. When ready to cook, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Heat the corn oil in a deep-fryer or other suitable heavy-based pan to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped in sizzles and browns quickly. You’ll need to cook the artichokes in batches. Dip in the batter and turn to coat, then lift out letting the excess batter fall off. Deep-fry three or four at a time for about 11/2 minutes until golden and tender. Remove and drain on kitchen paper; keep hot while you cook the rest. Deep-fry the lemon slices in the same way – don’t overcrowd the pan or they will stick together. When golden, remove and drain.
  5. Serve the crispy artichokes and lemon slices on warm plates drizzled with the anchovy and mint dressing. I like to serve a simply dressed rocket salad alongside, for a nice clean contrast.
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