Fried Chive Blossoms with Garlic Aioli

A few weeks ago while I was in Maine, I came home and my daughter Abi was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. This week, she’ll be posting one of her recipes. Enjoy! – Donna

So I have a bit of a problem with certain food related things. The most expensive of my food problems is my cookbook addiction. My collection is mostly fueled by amazon pre-orders that occur after a few glasses of wine and that are promptly forgotten until suddenly there is a surprise box or three on the porch. My collection has actually become so large that I needed to move it from its home in my room to the bookcase by the kitchen. I wound up taking up an entire shelf of my mom’s cookbook bookcase, though I’m certain once I get back all of my lent out copies that I may have to encroach on another shelf.

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the shelf is bending under the weight of them….maybe we need a sturdier bookcase

The problem with having such an addiction is that if you buy enough cookbooks, you’ll eventually start finding ones that are more for reading and less for actually making anything from. It’s not that the recipes are inaccessible or things I wouldn’t try; it’s just more that I live in the middle of nowhere and certain ingredients aren’t widely available. Also anything that calls for ‘foraging’…well let’s put it this way…my idea of being outdoorsy is drinking wine on the patio. You will not catch me traipsing through the woods for fiddleheads at the beginning of spring, nor will you catch me with my hands in mom’s garden, unless manicures have been promised for afterwards.

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This lengthy preamble brings me to one of my cookbooks that I never thought I would cook from, mostly due to the foraging that seemed to be necessary for ingredients, The Lost Kitchen by Erin French. I was in need of fresh tarragon, which isn’t readily available in either my mom’s herb boxes or at the more local grocery stores, but then I remembered Rosaly’s Farm. It’s a farm stand in our home town that has a Pick-Your-Own-Herbs garden. With my clippers and bucket in hand, I was good to go, but while I was out there, I got distracted by the gorgeous purple chive blossoms. Recalling that The Lost Kitchen had a recipe for fried chive blossoms, and a literal field of chive blossoms before me, I just couldn’t help myself.

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Upon returning home and actually reading the recipe, I already knew I’d be changing things around a bit. I suppose that is another food problem that I have…I never seem to be able to follow a recipe as written. I always want to tinker.  

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if you leave the stems on before frying, they make an excellent handle to dip into the batter, then hold them directly above the oil and use scissors to cut the stem off to drop them in

As written, it was a simple tempura batter, but since reading Night+Market by Kris Yenbamroong I have found myself incapable of sticking to a simple tempura when it comes to frying. So I added tapioca starch and rice flour to the batter with the reasoning that more crunch when frying is always better. Neither tapioca or rice flour have gluten, which helps them to fry really crispy, a fact learned from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Tapioca starch is actually how your General Tso’s chicken stays crispy despite being smothered in sauce, and rice flour is what gives Japanese karaage (fried chicken) it’s distinctive crunch. So clearly, more is better.  

Honestly, this batter is everything. It continues to get harder and crunchier after it gets taken out of the oil and even the next day, providing you didn’t store your leftovers while hot, they will still be crunchy. Add some aioli to dip the fried chive blossoms into and you’ve got yourself an easy snack that is guaranteed to impress your friends when you’ve told them what exactly it was that you’ve made.

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FRIED CHIVE BLOSSOMS

1 1/4 cups tempura flour or tempura batter mix

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3 cup white rice flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground white pepper

3 cups club soda

24 + chive blossoms

Heat oil in a wok, dutch oven, or deep fryer to 375. To test the oil, drop a small blob of batter into it, it should bubble and brown within 30-40 seconds.

In a medium bowl, stir together the tempura, tapioca and rice flours and the salt and pepper. Pour in the soda water. Mix until there are no lumps left. It should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter.

Working in batches, dip the chive blossoms in the batter, and then drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown, flipping once. This should take about 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the blossoms to paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Serve immediately with the lemon-garlic aioli.

 

LEMON GARLIC AIOLI

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2 large egg yolks

1/2 garlic clove minced (my recipe dyslexia read this as 1-2 cloves garlic, so mine was VERY garlicky. not that anyone in our family minds)

1 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt

Using a handheld mixer or whisk, combine the yolks and garlic in a bowl. Continue to whisk as you add the oil very slowly, almost drop by drop. Once it starts to get thick and fluffy, you can add the oil in a steadier stream. Continue mixing until all of the oil has emulsified into the egg mixture. Add the lemon and season with salt to taste. Serve with fried chive blossoms.

If the aioli starts to look thin and greasy instead of fluffy and creamy, set it aside and start over. Once you’ve gotten the second batch to look fluffy and creamy then you can incorporate the old batch. You can never have too much aioli.

 

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