Deep-frying is a very difficult thing to get right at home, particularly when using a domestic electric fryer. These are much better than they used to be, but are still very small and the first thing people get wrong is overloading them. This causes the temperature to drop significantly, with a resultant absorption of oil. The other problem is getting them hot enough. You want a temperature of 190°C/375°F to seal the crust or set the batter, otherwise excessive oil absorption will take place.
The batter used is obviously significant, and for this dish use one which borrows from Japanese tempura, to give a light and very crisp finish. Even when you do get it right, remember that you need to serve the flowers the instant they come from the fryer and after only a brief draining on absorbent paper. Left to sit, steam generated by the super-hot filling will soften the crispest of batter envelopes.
First make the stuffing: put the mozzarella into a bowl with the chopped anchovy fillets and basil. Season with pepper and mix together with a fork. Using
Preheat oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F. Make the batter: sift the flour into a bowl with the cornflour and baking powder. Put the iced water in another large bowl. Dump the flour mixture into the iced water in one go and quickly mix with a fork. There should still be lumps. (Do not overmix to a smooth batter or the end result will be chewy rather than crisp.)
Coat the flower parcels in the batter and fry in two batches if your fryer is small, serving in stages after draining on paper. Serve with lemon quarters.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.