While artichokes will always remain my true love of springtime, broad beans come a very close second. This recipe is inspired by my father in law, who while working as a grocer in his store in Dulwich Hill would often make himself a quick lunch of flash fried young broad beans in between customers. Ba would lightly dust the young tender broad beans in seasoned flour and fry in Greek extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). He says this quick lunch reminded him of the ones his mother, Ekaterini, would make when he was a young boy in his family villaged, called Diasella, in the Peloponnese.
My twist to the recipe is to enrich the batter a little and add a dash of ouzo. This makes a great light springtime dinner, with a little smoked trout or (for the more robust taste buds) Greek herring called Renga (Ρέγκα) and some punchy, garlicky skordalaia. This light spring time meze is best accompanied by a chilled glass of ouzo.
Broad beans fried with ouzo (κουκιά τηγανητά με ούζο)
Serves 4 as part of a meze; cooking time 20 minutes
1/2 kg of young broad beans, cleaned and strings removed
Fleur del sel, to serve (I use the Sparoza brand, available in Australia from Homer St)
1/4 cup Greek EVOO
1 tablespoon of ouzo
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 egg whites
To make the batter, whisk the oil, ouzo and water into the rice flour and beat well. Using a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they have firm peaks. Then fold into the batter.
Place a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the oil to a frying pan, to coat the bottom by about half an inch.
Dip the cleaned and stringed broad beans into the batter, and coat on both sides. Carefully place into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels and serve with a sprinkling of fleur de sel.