HOW DO YOU MAKE A GREAT DESSERT WHEN YOU HAVE VIRTUALLY NOTHING? YOU LOOK AROUND AND DEEP-FRY THE ONLY INGREDIENTS YOU HAVE AND THEN COAT THEM IN SUGAR. YOUNG LEMON LEAVES — LARGE AND JUST BEGINNING TO FILL WITH THE ESSENTIAL CITRUS OILS — ARE PERFECT FOR THIS DISH. GO TO YOUR NEAREST LEMON TREE, CUT OFF A DOZEN OF THE FINEST LEAVES — INCLUDING A LITTLE OF THE LEAF STEM — THEN DIP THEM IN SOME BATTER AND DEEP-FRY. AS THE LEAF HEATS UP IT IMPARTS ITS OILS INTO THE BATTER. YOU REMOVE THE LEAF AND EAT THE TWO GOLDEN SHELLS LEFT ON EITHER SIDE. FUNNILY ENOUGH THESE LEAVES ARE COOKED IN OLIVE OIL, DESPITE THE ALMOST COMPLETE LACK OF OLIVE TREES IN GALICIA. NEVERTHELESS THIS DISH IS SOMEHOW STILL A LOCAL FAVOURITE.
Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Add the lemon zest and whisk in the soda water until a smooth batter forms.
Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds.
Take each lemon leaf and gently rub it between your hands to start releasing the oil. Working in batches, dip the leaves into the soda batter, allowing the excess to drain off. Deep-fry the leaves for 1½ minutes, or until golden. Drain on paper towel, dust with sugar and serve immediately with coffee, a strong spirit or perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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