Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Deep Fried Broccoli with Caramel Fish Sauce

Don't worry folks, I haven't died, I just took a bit of a break with the posting. You'll be happy (I hope) to hear that I'm back on the wagon—or is that off the wagon? Either way, I'm back to stay.

For my first post back, I thought it would be appropriate to mention our trip to Houston to visit Simeon. Of course, he wouldn't let us leave town without visiting Underbelly. Among all the delicious food, including goat dumplings and vinegar pie (plus some atrociously salty fried rice), what stuck in my mind the most was a simple dish of deep fried broccoli1. There was cauliflower too, mind you, but the broccoli really stole the show. The fried florets packed the punch of a tiny multitude of delicately crispy orbs2 bursting with savory dressing.

To create my own version of this snack, I had to match that sweet and savory fish sauce based coating. I found this recipe for caramel fish sauce. And now I have a full squeeze bottle of it in my fridge…

Caramel Fish Sauce

adapted from Rogue Estate

2 cupsSugar
  1. Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Boil until deeply caramelized.
¼ cupWater
1 tbspLemon juice
1Cinnamon stick
  1. Reduce heat and add rest of ingredients, stirring to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, then allow to cool.
  2. Strain if you want, then bottle for storage.
1 podStar anise
½ tspGarlic powder
¼ tspGinger powder
1 tspGround black pepper
1 tspGarlic chili sauce
2 tbspRice vinegar
¼ cupFish sauce
¼ cupWater
1 largeOnion, diced

Combine the sugar, the first ¼ cup of water, and the lemon juice in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. Put on medium heat and stir as the sugar dissolves. Maintain enough heat to keep the sugar at a boil, but be careful not to let it foam over.

Continue heating until the caramel reaches a deep amber color. The darker you let it go, the more complex and savory and, eventually, bitter it will become. We want to cultivate just a hint of smoky bitterness, but take care not to burn it!

As soon as the mixture has reached the right color, dump in the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Once these flavors have infused, allow the mixture to cool and strain it if you like. Then stick it in a squeeze bottle and now you can put it on everything.

Deep Fried Broccoli

inspired by Houston TX's Underbelly

1 headBroccoli
  1. Cut broccoli, separating into florets.
  2. Heat oil to 350°F.
  3. Deep fry broccoli until darkened and crispy.
Caramel fish sauce
  1. Pull from the oil and toss with fish sauce, a splash of vinegar, and a pinch of salt to taste.
Rice vinegar

Deep frying broccoli is seriously fucking easy. Take a head of broccoli. Cut it up into florets. Heat some oil to about 350°F, and fry the suckers for a few minutes, until they darken and get crispy. Don't use a batter, just fry them directly—this gives the florets a supremely unique crunchy-juicy texture. Plus, it's way easier and less mess.

Scoop the broccoli out and drain away any excess oil, then throw into a bowl. Immediately season with a sprinkle of salt, a squirt of caramel fish sauce, and a splash of rice vinegar, and toss to coat well. The vinegar is a nice addition that helps to cut the sweet, smoky richness of the sauce. Make sure to serve immediately to enjoy the broccoli in its full crispy-juicy glory.

  1. I suppose this should be unsurprising, considering I've already professed my love for deep fried brussels sprouts. 

  2. It's the kind of layered crunchiness you get from eating a stack of 7 Pringles. 

1 comment:

  1. Phrase of the millennium: "a tiny multitude of delicately crispy orbs."