For the last few Saturdays I have been going to my local farmer’s market in search of the freshest ingredients. There is something to be said about talking straight to the farmer’s and knowing where your food comes from, not to mention helping to support local vendors. On my last trip, I came across some squash blossoms. I remember seeing them on a cooking show once and they made a salad out of them. Yes, they will look gorgeous in a salad but there isn’t too much taste to them. To me, they taste like iceberg lettuce but less flavor. Well, I knew I was going to bring them home and stuff them. I stuffed them with a Thai style ground pork, tempura battered them and deep-fried them. Below is my recipe.
One of the greatest purchases from Thailand. My granite mortar and pestle that weighs a ton but is one of my favorite kitchen tools.
If you EVER see the root on the cilantro -BUY IT! There is such intense flavor in this root that will make your dinner guests guessing what your secret ingredient is. In the States it is so rare to see it on the cilantro but in Thailand, it is ALWAYS there. I was lucky enough to come across it at the farmers market a couple weeks ago and just trimmed it and froze it.
What you will need:.
.5 lb of ground pork (chicken and shrimp would also work)
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 cilantro roots (if you don’t have the root, use the stems) + 1 T of the stems
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 T oyster sauce
1 T fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Sweet chili dipping sauce
*tempura batter (scroll to the bottom to recipe)
Oil for frying
What you will do:
1. In a mortar and pestle, add the garlic, peppercorns, cilantro root, cilantro stems and muddle to a paste. Add this paste to the ground pork, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
2. Prepare the squash blossoms by removing the inner stamen without breaking the leaves. The blossoms are very delicate so do not rush.
3. Gently open the leaves and scoop about 1 T of pork mixture. Close the blossom and set aside. The blossoms have a natural tendency for its leaves to twist, this creates the perfect vessel for stuffing.
4. In a pan, heat oil to 350 degrees. When the oil is ready, dip each blossom in the tempura batter and let excess batter drip off. Use a spider to gently lower each blossom in the hot oil. Cook for about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and sprinkle a little salt as soon as they come out of the oil.
5. Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with cilantro and serve with a sweet chili sauce.
Pictured above: the muddled root, stem, garlic and peppercorns. If you don’t have a mortar you can mince by hand or use a food processor.
Pictured above: adding the oyster sauce.
Pictured above: the gorgeous little squash blossoms that remind me of sunshine.
Pictured above: remove the inner stamen before stuffing your blossoms.
Pictured above: the blossom stuffed with the pork mixture.
Pictured above: always be careful when deep frying. If you are going to use your hands, put the tip in the oil before slowly placing the rest.
Pictured above: pretty little blossom getting crispy.
Pictured above: I recommend using a spider when placing your blossoms in the hot oil.
Pictured above: draining on kitchen towel. Don’t forget-always season as soon as something comes out of hot oil.
Pictured above: gorgeously golden brown and super crispy!
* For the tempura batter:
Shift 1 c all-purpose flour and 1 T cornstarch into a bowl. Add 1.5 cups of ice-cold sparkling water and whisk together.
TIP: If you are not using the batter straight away, keep in fridge. The colder the batter the better the outcome.
Cheers and happy eating!