A simple batter is used all over Ukraine for frying all sorts of things, from chicken or pork schnitzel to whole river fish. I love vegetables fried in this way, and cauliflower is especially good. Normally, plain white flour is used, but buckwheat flour was a popular choice in the past and I tend to use it instead of wheat flour – it is healthier, and much more flavoursome. You can use the batter in this recipe for vegetables other than cauliflower. Normally the fritters are eaten just as they are, but I like them with a spoonful of dill-and-garlic-spiked mayo. If you come across some good-quality chipotle mayo, that wouldn’t go amiss either.
You can use this versatile Ukrainian batter to fry any vegetables you like.
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 egg, beaten
- 100 ml whole milk
- 60 g buckwheat or plain flour
- Black pepper
- Sea salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Dill and garlic mayonnaise
- 150 g mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- Handful of finely chopped dill
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, keeping any sprightly smaller leaves too. Blanch the cauliflower and its leaves in a pan of boiling, salted water.
2. Take the leaves out after about 2 minutes, and the florets after 5 minutes. Refresh both in cold water, then drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper.
3. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat: it should cover the base of the pan; if not add a little more.
4. If you are using buckwheat flour, make the batter just before you are ready to fry as it becomes gloopier by the minute. In a bowl, whisk the egg with the milk, then add the flour and whisk until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper.
5. Drop four pieces of cauliflower into the batter bowl at a time, making sure they are all thickly coated.
6. When the oil is really hot, bring the bowl over to the pan (otherwise everything will get super-messy!) and pop the batter-coated pieces of cauliflower into the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to fry between 4 and 8 fritters at a time. When they are golden all over, drain on kitchen paper. You might need to wipe out the pan with kitchen paper and add more oil in between batches.
7. For the dill and garlic mayonnaise, simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the cauliflower fritters with the garlic-spiked dill mayo.
Recipe and image from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules (Bloomsbury Publishing, $49.99).