Deep-Fried Vegetables with Garlic & Anchovy Dip

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

A selection of brightly coloured vegetables coated in the lightest of batters and fried briefly at a high temperature combines perfectly with a robustly flavoured garlic-and-anchovy sauce to produce an original first course that offers a satisfying range of tastes and textures.

The key to success is to fry as many different vegetables as you can find in lots of clean sunflower oil at 190°C/375°F. Take care not to overcrowd the pan, or the temperature will drop too low and the batter will absorb oil and become greasy. The batter, which is essentially a Japanese tempura coating, may also be used with pieces of fish fillet, calamari or tiger prawns.

Ideally the sauce should be presented at the table in a bagna cauda, or glazed pot set over a candle to keep the contents warm.

Ingredients

  • about 900 g/2 lb of assorted vegetables, such as asparagus, yellow peppers, red peppers, green peppers, courgettes, small aubergines, onions, spring onions etc

For the Sauce

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 115 g/4 oz anchovy fillets
  • 125 ml/4 fl oz thick plain yogurt

For the Batter

  • 1 size-2 egg
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz ice-cold lager
  • pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 g/4 oz fine plain flour, sifted

Method

Preparation

Trim the vegetables. Deseed peppers and cut them into strips. Cut courgettes lengthwise into 4 and then into neat batons. Slice onions into rings. Cut aubergines into discs. Trim the spring onions.

Make the sauce: peel, smash and chop the garlic and put in a pan with the olive oil over a low heat together with the anchovies. Stir from time to time until the anchovies break down to form a thick paste.

Remove from the heat and when just warm, stir in the yogurt and transfer to a bagna cauda over a flame or to a suitable bowl.

Heat the sunflower oil to 190°C/375°F and preheat the oven to 130°C/275°F/gas1.

Make the batter: beat the egg in a bowl. Continue to beat, adding the lager in a thin stream. Add the bicarbonate and salt to the flour, then dump this in one go into the liquid and stir a few times barely to mix. There should be lumps! Stir until smooth and you will end up with a heavy coating when fried. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Cooking

Dip the vegetables in the batter and fry a few at a time, transferring them to a dish lined with paper towels and keeping them in the low oven until all are done.

Serving

If using a bagna cauda, place in the centre of a large serving dish surrounded by fried vegetable pieces for people to help themselves and dip into the warm sauce. Alternatively, put a spoonful or two of the sauce into the middle of each plate and arrange the battered vegetables around, giving everybody a selection.

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