This is a dish that has appeared on the menu at Berta several times, it’s a little fiddly but makes for a delicious salty and sweet antipasti. It’s essential to find big green olives for this dish as they are the only ones that have the right amount of room inside to stuff. You can easily pre-stuff a whole heap and have them resting in your fridge ready to be floured and fried whenever the need arises. It’s a fancy little snack to have on hand to impress your friends. In fact, it’s actually easier to make this in a slightly larger batch and you’ll find these olives are almost as good eaten just stuffed without being fried. Deep-fried is better though.
- 120 g quince paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- black pepper
- 20 large pitted green olives
- 1 egg
- 50 ml milk
- 150 g chickpea flour
- vegetable or cannola oil for frying
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.
Bring the quince paste to room temperature and, using the back of a spoon, break it down so it starts to become mushy. Add the olive oil and a good turn of black pepper and continue mixing and combining until you have a homogenous sticky mass.
Carefully scrape this mix into a disposable piping bag and cut just the very tip off.
Stuff each olive with this mix making sure there isn’t any sticking out.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and milk until nicely combined. Sit it down next to a plate covered with the chickpea flour, sifted and gently seasoned.
Roll the olives into the egg mixture and then lift, drain off the excess liquid and transfer to the flour, give it a little jiggle so it rolls around and becomes coated. Once you have done all the olives repeat, back into the egg and then the flour.
Once they are all floured, use your hands to individually roll them around again to make sure they are nice and even and making extra sure there isn’t any sneaky quince paste sticking out on the top.
Place a fry pan on the stove with about 3 cm of oil in it. Heat to about 180°C and then gently lower the olives in, depending on the size of the pan you may need to do this stage in batches. Use a slotted spoon to keep them rolling around and fry for about 2 minutes until the crust starts to become golden. At this stage lift them out of the oil and onto some paper towel to drain. Give them a nice season with black pepper while they are still hot.
Let them sit for a couple of minutes before serving as otherwise you will find biting into one of them is a little like trying to swallow molten lava.
• The type of olive you use for this dish is essential. If you taste one and find that it’s a little salty, give them a rinse under cold water and then soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes or so, this will remove any over powering saltiness.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson. "Raw" Pasta plate in colour Ink from Jardan. Black olive spoon, from White Home.