Baby artichokes aren’t snuffed out before they’ve had a chance at a full life, they’re just the little guys, lower down on the stalk. These babies come into their full flavor potential when they are deep fried, with a tender, light coating, a crunch of salt and a zing of lemon.
When you buy baby artichokes, try to find them closed very tight and firm, otherwise you’ll be throwing away a lot of the leaves. Don’t clean the inner choke, just take off the tough outer leaves and trim the bottoms, and leave the choke whole.
For the batter:
1 egg white, whipped to stiff peaks with a tiny pinch of salt
For finishing and serving the artichokes:
Finely chopped mint
Blanch the artichokes by bringing a small pot of lightly acidulated water to a boil. Add the cleaned chokes and let them cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and immediately run the artichokes under cold water, or place in a bowl of ice water.
Drain and dry the artichokes. A salad spinner works well for getting off the excess water.
Heat the oil to 350F/180C. Choose a deep pan. Fill the pan with olive oil or other vegetable oil to a depth that it will cover the artichokes. You don’t need to fill the whole pan with oil. Using a deep pan means more of the splatter will stay inside the pan instead of on your stove top. You’ll need a long pair of tongs or a mesh frying strainer. The longer the handle the less you’ll have to put your hand inside a steaming hot pot of boiling oil.
In a bowl, add a few tablespoons of flour (a 50/50 flour to cornflour mix works really well), then slowly whisk in cold water until you have the consistency of thick sour cream. Now gently whisk in the beaten egg white. Mix in the clean chokes and thoroughly coat them with batter.
Working in small batches, fry the artichokes until they are golden, irresistible brown. While they are frying, gently turn them in the oil for even browning.
Remove and place the cooked artichokes on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Keep them warm as you fry the other artichokes.
To serve: Dust with sea salt and finely chopped mint, with lemon wedges on the side.
Warning: Everyone dives into these, and the interior choke is molten, steaming hot...so be a little prudent on the first bite!
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