Sunday, 20 June 2010

A SUNDAY FRY-UP


Say the words "fry up" and one instantly imagines fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausages, mushrooms.... the epitome of the "Full English" (breakfast). Jamie Oliver even devised a brilliant one-pan breakfast with all the above ingredients thrown in together to create a heart-attack special. Delicious - but to be eaten rarely.

My Sunday fry up was a bit different. First, it was not a breakfast dish: I'd had fried mushrooms and scrambled eggs for breakfast on toasted ciabatta, all washed down with a mug of redbush tea. I am economising at the moment, trying not to spend too much money on food each week, especially when both fridge and freezer are groaning with food following a recent delivery by Ocado. By being strict about not rushing off to Tesco or M&S when I need something, I find I cook more resourcefully. Today's lunch was the result of a bit of kitchen conjuring, and the memory of a tapas dish I regularly order at my local Bar Estilo.

Of course, frying does not need to be that unhealthy: I use a non-stick pan and only a small amount of oil. Some months ago, I invested in a deep-fat fryer, a piece of kitchen kit I had been resisting for a long time. In fact, it is jolly useful and the food comes out of it better drained of fat than I can ever achieve scooping things out of the wok with a slotted spoon. It makes brilliant chips and onion bhajis, and is a must for making tempura (which I do quite often). The oil is kept at the right temperature and you can close the lid, thereby avoiding the danger of being splashed by boiling oil. It's a bit of a faff to clean, but you can reuse the oil a couple of times if you strain it.

I am not such a food purist that I make my own tempura batter. I buy a ready mix batter from the special ingredients section of my local Tesco. The only additional ingredient is water, preferably chilled and preferably fizzy (soda water also works well). This results in a very crisp, light batter. You can coat all sorts of things with batter and fry them to create tempura, but my particular favourites are: courgette and aubergine batons, sweet potato half-moons, mushrooms, big prawns, and chunks of salmon. I usually serve tempura simply with a slick of wasabi and a puddle of sweet chilli sauce. Today, I used only half an aubergine, supplemented with some Halloumi cheese, that wonderful middle eastern cheese with the squeaky texture that fries so well, cut into cubes and dusted with flour. The aubergine batons were chucked into the batter, fried, and scooped out, and then in went the Halloumi cubes. The end result was delicious - served with mango chutney. Needless to say, it didn't last long at all......

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