Mushrooms in Vodka Batter
Mushrooms in vodka batter - vegetarian recipe
This is a totally delicious recipe. This makes a great vegetarian lunch or dinner but is also lovely as an appetizer or side dish.
The batter contains no milk so it's dairy-free and many brands of vodka are also vegan.It's also surprisingly easy to make and very quick too.
If you're making these deliciously light fritters for guests or for a dinner party, the batter can be prepared in advance, so can the mushrooms, so that all that remains to be done is to fry and serve.
This recipe was inspired by chef Heston Blumenthal. In his book In Search of Perfection he creates a wonderful batter using vodka. As you know, he is part chef, part scientist and his logic in using vodka in batter is that it evaporates so much faster than milk or water. This means that it will brown more quickly and gives a lovely crispness.
I rarely fry foods in our quest to eat healthier foods but once in a while, this is a complete treat and I justify it by serving these wonderful mushrooms with salad, in this case, simple tomatoes and basil.
Ingredients for this recipe
This made enough for five mushrooms each, which makes it a lovely dinner for two. The amounts are easy to adjust for more servings.
- 8oz button mushrooms
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup plain flour - plus a little extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tomatoes
- Fresh basil to garnish
Prepare the mushrooms first
Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. They will be shallow-fried and turned during cooking so it's important that they will lie flat in the pan. Be sure to cut the stalks so that they will have a secure base when they are sitting on the stalk side in the pan. Place them on their tops and if necessary. cut a small slice from the top if they don't sit flat. This helps to reduce the time they need in the oil so less oil will be absorbed.
Put about half a cup of water into a medium pan and bring to the boil. Add the mushrooms then turn down the heat so that they simmer gently. They only need to cook for a couple of minutes during which time you can prepare the quick and simple batter.
Make the batter
It's hard to believe that these three ingredients can make such a fabulous batter. Heston Blumenthal's version was a bit too tricky - it included lager in addition to vodka, plus honey, and is then put into a soda syphon ... this was just a bit much for me, I have to admit. When recipes start talking about sugar thermometers and other specialist equipment, I look for an easier way. Heston uses the soda syphon to add lightness to the batter. Baking powder has a similar, but simpler, effect.
MIX THE BATTER
This is so easy. You could use a mixer but it's not necessary. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. I like to hold the sieve several inches above the bowl because this adds air; another way to ensure a light batter. Pour in the vodka, and whisk with a fork until it's smooth.
Drain & dry
BACK TO THE MUSHROOMS
Drain well. Pat them dry using paper towel - there's no need to get them bone dry, just remove the obvious moisture. Put the extra flour into a bowl and add the mushrooms. The flour will adhere to the outside and it makes the batter stick well. Shake off any excess flour. They don't have to be completely coated.
Slice the tomatoes to serve with the mushrooms. I don't add any dressing because the mushrooms will be cooked in oil and simple sliced tomatoes are refreshing to the palate.
BATTER & FRY
Heat olive oil in a skillet - frying pan. There needs to be about a quarter of an inch of oil in the pan. Add the mushrooms to the batter. When the oil is hot, add them one by one. (You can test this by adding a drop of batter first. If it turns golden, the oil is ready). The batter will cook quickly so as soon as you've added the last it will be time to turn the first. Place a sheet of paper towel into the sieve and put the cooked mushrooms in there so that the oil can be absorbed.
Serve with the sliced tomato garnished with fresh basil leaves. Delicious!
I've been cooking vegetarian meals since I was in my teens and without letting you know how old I am now, I have been a grandmother for several years so that gives you some idea! And yet despite the fact that I cook meat-free meals daily, I still love to buy recipe books for more and more inspiration - especially those that feature our favorite ingredients.
Frying the easy way
When I was a child, my mum had a highly dangerous 'chip pan' This was a regular pan that was always full almost to the brim with oil and had an elderly, twisted wire basket. Goodness knows how many times that thing caught on fire. Today's fat fryers are completely different though. They are self-contained and much safer and the Presto range in particular gets rave reviews.
All photograph © me.
I have been asked about the alcohol content of this dish. Please note that the alcohol evaporates when it is fried - the finished dish is NOT alcoholic! You can safely serve this dish to children and people who don't touch alcohol. In addition, there is no flavor of the vodka, it is there solely to make the batter delicious.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson