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Zucchini Blossoms

Tempura zucchini blossoms with kimchi dipping sauce

Some food, like asparagus, peaches, and tomatoes we wait all year for and are then treated to several weeks of excess. Deep-fried zucchini blossoms are good enough (and enough trouble to make) that I’m satisfied by a single meal.

Last year I used flowers from my own garden but I feel like this cut into the yield of actual zucchini so I bought a pint of them from the North York Farmers’ Market. One of the girls from Thames River Melons stand was nice enough to put together a container of still closed flowers for me so that they would stay fresh until I was ready for them three days later. They’ll also pick out one of their excellent watermelons for you timed to be ready when you want it.

I forgot to repeat one of the most successful tricks of last year’s version. If you’re not going to the trouble of stuffing the flowers (and I never have) it really is best to cut them in half along the vertical (longest) axis. This way the petals tend to splay randomly outwards and give the light batter an even more interesting texture.

The dipping sauce was inspired by David Chang and his Momofuku cookbook in the loosest possible of ways. As in, we dumped a bunch of kimchi and several other roughly Korean, roughly Asian, or generally delicious ingredients into the blender and buzzed it for nearly a minute. The kimchi, gochujang (but the one in the green tub), and a healthy dose of toasted sesame oil collaborated to make this a real winner of a sauce. Salty and spicy but also deeply savoury.

I really like kimchi as is but in this format, freed from its sometimes slimy texture I can see how its more approachable for the uninitiated. The fact that it didn’t overpower the other ingredients with its spicy or pungent flavours will, I think, make it more likely that I try one of Chang’s other recipes for kimchi like stew in the future.

The tempura batter is just a matter of sifting enough flour into soda water to bring it to the consistency somewhere between thin sour cream or thick pancake batter. Season this stage if you like but be sure liberally sprinkle with your finest salt immediately after it comes out of the oil.

 

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