My spouse doesn't know this, but a big motivation for my planting zucchini this year was that I wanted to eat fried zucchini blossoms. Mark Pascal had gone on and on about how delicious they were on The Restaurant Guys Radio show and I was dying to try them. But zucchini blossoms are not too easy to come by in the shops, at least not here in Victoria, where we don't have a very large Italian population. So I knew I needed to grow my own.
The first blossoms appeared a few weeks ago and since then, I've been waiting for a day when there were enough new blossoms to fry some up for the family dinner. So far, there have only ever been four or five blossoms ready on any given day: not really enough to feed four people. Today I decided I was tired of waiting, and that I would make myself fried zucchini blossoms for lunch, and the rest of the family would have to wait. Score one for the lonely housewife!
The first step was picking the blossoms. I had to be careful not to pick the daylilies, since they look very similar to zucchini blossoms. The key here was to only pick flowers that were growing on the actual zucchini plant. I picked five blossoms and managed to leave the daylilies intact. ;)
Zucchini blossom = good eats
Daylily = strictly ornamental. Do not eat!
The next step was heating the oil. I don't like deep-frying in general, but I'm getting braver. I courageously poured about 1/2 inch worth of canola oil into my cast iron frying pan and turned the heat to medium-high. Then I put 1/2 cup of water in a bowl, and sifted in slightly less than 1/2 cup of flour.
I beat the mixture with a fork until it looked sourcreamy. Then I cut a little slit into the edge of each blossom, and flattened them. (By the way, I didn't get these directions out of my own brilliant mind or anything. I found them in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.)
Then I dipped them in the batter.
Before we get to the money shot (sizzling blossoms), a quick word about mommies and daddies. According to this very informative article, the mommy zucchini blossoms cost more from suppliers than the daddies do, which makes me think that they must be tastier. However, Marcella says that the mommies don't taste good at all, and specifically indicates "male zucchini blossoms" in her recipe. The only thing to do was to try both, I figured, and so I did.
The photos above depict a daddy, with a thin stem. Here is (rather blurry) one of a mommy, with its little zucchini baby attached.
When I cooked her up, I just fried the baby as well. The result? Surprisingly, I think I agree with Marcella. I often find her diktats overly strict and ignore a lot of her advice. I put (gasp!) chicken broth in my risotto and may turn my eggplant slices more than once when frying them for pasta sauce. But in the case of the zucchini blossoms, Marcella is right, and while the female was not gross or anything, I think I'l stick to the males in future, for the purposes of frying anyway. It's not worth giving up a potential future zucchini.
And now for the sizzling. Mmmm...
If you're going to make these, for heaven's sake do yourself a favour and use a splatter guard. These things spit like nobody's business!
I drained the blossoms briefly on paper towels, before sprinkling over a few grains of kosher salt, and then gobbling them greedily.
My first impression was that zucchini blossoms taste like popcorn, but with a delectably creamy centre. After a few bites, I started to get more of the zucchini flavour. The baby zucchini was okay. It made me think that all the flavour that it was going to get was already in it, and the growing of the squash just diffused the flavour a little bit. I like that diffusion though, and prefer normal-sized zucchini to the little baby I tried.
Despite all this talk of mommies, daddies, and babies, I realized that I had made a vegan dish! This hardly ever happens, but I'm excited when it does, because I like to tell my vegan friends that I am totally down with their cuisine.
My 14-year-old babysitter arrived at the Yellow House just as I was taking the last blossom out of the frying pan and gamely agreed to try it. She agreed with my popcorn comparison and thought it was pretty tasty. This means that I can try them on the picky-seven-but-almost-eight-year-old next. I may not tell her what she's eating until after she's taking her first bite though.
This entry is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by its founder Kalyn. And yes I know that zucchini blossoms are not an herb, but Kalyn graciously allows flower blogging in her event also. I've been wanting to participate in WHB for ages, so I'm really excited to finally be a part of it.