Goat’s cheese fritters stuffed with Thai basil, with sherry vinegar, palm sugar syrup & almonds

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Preparation info

  • For

    4

    per (1 per person) as a tapas
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

These delicious fritters are based on an incredibly simple but completely moreish tapa which has been on my menu at Bellota, the tapas bar I created in 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand, since the day we opened. At Bellota, we simply roll goat’s cheese into balls and deep-fry them, but here they’re made even more special by stuffing them with Thai basil, although if you’re stuck for this particular herb then stuff them with a mixture of basil and coriander instead. They’re very popular and we sell them by the truckload. The sherry vinegar and palm sugar combo makes for a great dip and even though they’re already crunchy from the panko crumbs, the addition of almonds is the finishing touch.

Ingredients

  • 200 g goat’s cheese - something like a French chèvre or Spanish Monte Enebro
  • a small handful of Thai basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp grated or chopped pale palm sugar
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 10 toasted almonds, roughly chopped

Method

Bring the cheese to room temperature and divide into four equal pieces.

Reserve a few Thai basil leaves for garnish, then pound the rest into a rough paste using a mortar and pestle, or shred them.

One at a time, using your hands, form the goat’s cheese into a ball. Poke a finger into the centre and spoon, pipe or poke a quarter of the basil paste into the hole. Fold the cheese back over the hole and form back into a ball. Do the same with the remainder, then place the balls in the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes.

Place the palm sugar, sherry vinegar and 2 teaspoons of water in a small pan and slowly bring to the boil, making sure the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes, until the syrup thickens a bit, then take off the heat.

Roll the balls in the flour then coat in the beaten egg. Roll them in the breadcrumbs making sure you press the crumbs on firmly. Place back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to again firm up.

In a pot large enough to hold them all in one layer, bring 5 cm of the vegetable oil to 180°C. Add the reserved Thai basil leaves and fry until they stop sizzling then remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. Lower the balls into the hot oil off the back of a slotted spoon and cook for 2 minutes or so, at which point they’ll be a lovely golden colour. On the off-chance that they pop open while frying - which can sometimes happen - just remove them and finish them in a hot oven. This is simply the moisture from the cheese escaping. Once they’re cooked, remove them from the oil and lay on kitchen paper for a few minutes to cool down.

To Serve

Simply serve them on a plate with the dipping sauce in a small bowl and the almonds and deep-fried basil leaves scattered on top.