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Fritto Misto

 

This is an italian recipe and the name means mixed fried food.  Fresh vegetables, fish, shrimp, calamari, scallops, or fresh fruits are dipped into a batter or dredged in flour and fried in vegetable oil.  It is not only quite good, but it is also simple to prepare. You can use virtually any vegetable that is available for this dish.

For this pizza party, I am using the following:

(serves 6 to 8 as a starter)

 

1 zucchini cut into rings or  thinly sliced 

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/4 pound of haricot verts, or any green beans, trimmed

1/4 pound of artichoke hearts, cut into thin slices

2 yellow and red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

3 lemons, thinly sliced

1/4 pound of calamari, cut into rings

1/4 pound of diver scallops, cut in half, depending on size

1/4 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined

vegetable oil for frying

salt and pepper 

2 cups of seasoned flour for frying, see below

batter for frying, see below

 

I prefer to use a batter for the vegetables and seasoned flour for the scallops and calamari.  I prefer the more delicate coating on calamari, shrimp, oysters or scallops and I think the flavor comes through better.  But either method will work just fine.

Dredge the calamari, shrimp and scallops in 2 cups of all purpose flour seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.  Rice flour or cornstarch also work very well.  Remove any excess flour by shaking them in a sieve or just shaking them gently by hand.

Carefully lower the calamari,shrimp and scallops, in batches, into  several inches of vegetable oil at a temperature of 375 degrees F.  I use a Waring Pro deep fryer which has a temperature control and a wire basket.  But you can also just add the oil to a pan with a heavy bottom.  The oil should be about 1 to 2 inches deep, but do not fill the pan by more than 1/3.  Use a candy or deep fry thermometer measure the temperature. You can also drop a small cube of bread into the hot oil.  If it floats to the top, crackling and golden brown in about l minute, the temperature is just right.

Depending on the quantity of items that you are frying, you may need to fry them in batches.  It is important to avoid overcrowding the basket or pan.  If you add too many items to the hot oil, the temperature will drop drastically, the food will absorb too much oil and the food will be rather soggy and oily.  The calamari,shrimp and scallops will need about 3 minutes to fry. You should turn them at least once while they are frying.  When they are golden brown and crispy, remove them with a slotted spoon, or the wire basket if you are using a deep fryer.  Let the excess oil drain back into the pan and drain the calamari, shrimp and scallops on a paper towel.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, while they are still hot, and serve immediately.  If you are frying in batches, you can keep the calamari, shrimp and scallops warm in a 200 degree F oven while you fry the remainder of the food.

For the vegetables, I use a recipe for a batter that was given to me by a friend in Florence, Italy. This recipe uses:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 large egg separated

1 1/4 cups of cold prosecco (you can also use club soda, or sparkling wine, or a mixture of the 2) 

salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the flour with the egg yolk and then slowly wisk in the prosecco until you have a smooth thin batter.  You are looking for something that looks like a thin pancake or tempura batter. You will probably not use all of the prosecco.  Add the salt and pepper, to taste and let it sit covered in the refrigerator for several hours.  When you are ready to use the batter, let it come to room temperature.  Add additional prosecco if the batter has become too thick.  Wisk the egg white until you have firm peaks and gently fold it into the batter.  Dip the vegetables into the batter and let any excess batter drip back into the bowl.  

Carefully add to the hot oil (375 degrees F), don’t over crowd, and cook until they are crisp and golden brown (about 1 to 2 minutes). You should turn the vegetables over while they are frying.  When they are done, remove with a slotted spoon, or the basket in the deep fryer, let the excess oil fall back into the pan, drain them on a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you are frying in batches, you can keep the vegetables warm in a 200 degree F oven.  Serve immediately.

 

I like to serve Fritto Misto with several dipping sauces.  There are a number of them that you can buy in the store.  But today I am using a lemon aioli and a chipotle tomato sauce

Aioli is similar to a garlic mayonnaise.  You can make it by hand in a mortar and pestal, a food processor or buy it in the store.  You can also flavor the aioli with things like lemon, saffron, or chipotle peppers.  Today I am making a simple version using mayonnaise.  For this recipe use:

1 cup of good mayonnaise

2 cloves of garlic, minced (do this to taste)

juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon

several tablespoons of chopped chives

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and check the taste.  You may want to add additional lemon juice or garlic.

The second dipping sauce is a chipotle tomato sauce and this recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s  “Tempura Shrimp Cocktail with Two Purees”.  His recipe for the entire dish, which is only one of my favorites in his book, can be found in his book “Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai ” 

 

In any case, for this recipe use:

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, sliced, to taste

2 medium ripe tomatoes chopped, or 1 cup of drained canned tomatoes, San Marzano if available, roughly chopped

chipotles in adobo sauce, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon, roughly chopped, to taste, they are rather hot

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Saute the onion, a pinch of salt, and the garlic in several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until the onions are soft and opaque, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, another pinch of salt, to taste, and the chipotles and saute the tomatoes are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree.  Taste and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.