Knock knock knock.
Mom always made us eat all our vegetables. Poor sister Alyssa sat at the dinner table late into many an evening over an untouched plate of cold broccoli (and was occasionally served the same broccoli for breakfast!). Reminds one of Christina Crawford’s rare steak, huh?
I actually love vegetables, even ones that seem to polarize a lot of eaters. But this recipe can turn any die-hard carnivorous Hank Hill type into a Level-5-No-Shadow-Casting-Vegan. I am exaggerating, but I gotta get you to try this out somehow, and this one is kind of a pain in the ass. See, I am honest.
Most restaurants get fried zucchini woefully wrong, mostly because it generally comes from a giant plastic bag from Sysco or some other commercial supplier. That’s ok for 2am takeout and not much else. And if you make enough of these (double the recipe), you can have some in your freezer for those 2am occurrences. Just don’t burn your hands on the hot grease, ya drunk!
What you need:
- 2 medium zucchini squash
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- a couple of plugs of tabasco
- 3 cups of panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp jalapeño salt
- 1/2 tsp Old Bay or Tony Cachere’s
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- about a liter of canola oil (I prefer peanut, but it’s sometimes a little pricey. No need to break the bank.)
Slice the zucchini. I prefer to run them through a mandolin for consistency and I like the ripple effect. They should all be about 1/4 of an inch in thickness.
Put the slices into a zip top bag with the flour. Shake it till each piece is well coated with flour.
In a shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, and tabasco. Beat until the egg is incorporated into the other wet ingredients.
Put the panko in a plastic bag if it didn’t come IN a plastic bag. With your hands or a rolling pin, crunch the pieces up in the bag so they are a finer consistency. Don’t pulverize it, just crush it up a little so it adheres better. In another container (preferably something shallow and square and not too big), combine crushed panko and the rest of the spices. Shake it up, pour half out for later.
Put wax paper on a sheet pan and pre-set it next to the battering station. Pre-set another piece of wax paper if you think you’ll need it. Trying to do that with batter covered hands won’t put a smile on your face.
Let the Batter Begin!
Dip a flour-coated zucchini into the buttermilk egg wash. Make sure it’s coated. Dredge thoroughly in panko, mashing a little if necessary. Place delicately on the wax paper lined sheet pan. Repeat. And repeat. When the panko starts getting clumpy, throw it away and start again with your fresh reserved panic. Trust me, this seems wasteful but you will be so happy for this step.
When you’ve completed the battering and are about to go insane from monotony, place the sheet pan in the freezer. You don’t want to hard-freeze them, just get the outer coating to set up.
In a deep pot or dutch over, heat oil to 350 degrees. The oil needs to be about 2 inches deep at minimum.
When the outer coating of the zucchini has set up and oil is at 350, commence! Don’t overload the oil. Do it in smallish batches. Fry till it’s golden and floating. Drain on a rack. Season with a pinch of kosher salt while each batch is still hot.
This is going to yield about 20-25 pieces, which is a realistic amount for 4 people unless you’re all a bunch of pigs. This is a serving for two at my house.
You’ll want to serve this with Neigh-Neigh Horse Sauce (see recipe on this site).
If for some reason you don’t want to fry them all at once, place them carefully in a zip top bag and freeze them. They’ll fry up beautifully when you’re good and ready!
Enjoy these little gems… They’ll likely be your new favorite “vegetable.”
Bye for now,
The Gentleman Caller
**this works magnificently with asparagus as well. Trim the stems to between 4-5 inches. Make sure they are of ample girth, nothing too thin or floppy. Follow all steps exactly the same. Then your pee will smell. XO-GC