Before making these, I had a very limited concept of what exactly is a fritter. When I think fritter, I first think of hushpuppies, those salty, deep-fried puffs of cornmeal crumb goodness that I adored eating at Long John Silver’s as a kid (lord knows I wasn’t eating the fish.) Otherwise, I think of apple fritters as sold at donut shops– a huge, deep-fried circle of donut dough, cuddling chunks of apple, spicy with cinnamon and heavily glazed with sugar. I’m not complaining, mind you. I could still, much to my detriment, eat my fill of either fritter friend.
But then I made these in my experiments with Michael Ruhlman’s ingredient ratios, and my limited world of fritters expanded exponentially! Pan fried, instead of deep-fried, I no longer had my usual fear of dealing with hot oil and its nasty clean-up, and upon tasting these little guys, I proudly, and quite loudly, declared myself to be THE FRITTER QUEEN!
A fritter, as made here, is a loose pancake batter that barely holds together whatever filling you wish. In my case, I made my fritters using long, thin shreds of bright green zucchini, then spiked them with the sharp taste of feta cheese. To make them even more interesting, I added a softer, herbal note with flecks of fresh mint and had a hint of an acidic zing with lemon zest to keep these as bright as their lovely, sunny yellow color. Cooked in a cast iron skillet, these fritters puffed up and turned golden brown. We ate them as a side dish to some soup, but I could have tossed the soup aside to just focus on these. I loved eating them with my hands, pulling them apart in order to enjoy the tactile sensation of their crispy outsides and tender, almost cakey insides. As a final touch, I served these with a dollop of homemade tzatziki sauce, perfect for dunking and dipping these fritters and loving how that tangy, cool sauce contrasted with the warm, crispy fritters. What do you say? Am I not THE FRITTER QUEEN? (Rhetorical question, mind you.)
- 2 medium zucchini, shredded using a food processor or the large holes of a cheese grater; yields 2 cups
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 4 oz (about 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt plus more for salting zucchini
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- canola oil for frying
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp minced onion
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tbsp each parsley and fresh mint, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the ingredients for the tzatziki in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill and encourage the flavors to marry while you make the fritters.
Put the shredded zucchini in a colander and lightly salt (1/2 tsp or so) and toss the zucchini shreds with your hands. Let this sit in the sink so that any extra moisture can drain out while you mix together the fritter batter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until thoroughly combined. Whisk the dry mixture into the wet ingredients until smooth and combined, no lumps.
Lightly press the zucchini shreds to release any extra moisture extracted by the salt then dump them into a large bowl and mix in the feta, lemon zest and mint. Carefully pour in the fritter batter, adding only as much as is needed to hold the zucchini shreds together.
Add enough canola oil (or other light oil but not olive) to coat the bottom of a large skillet, preferably cast iron if you’ve got it; I mean coat the bottom without heating. Heat this over medium high heat or until the oil ripples. Drop spoonfuls of your fritter mix into the oil and fry on each side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Do this in batches, being careful not to crown the pan. You can keep batches warm in an oven, preheated to 200 degrees F, but once the last batch is done, serve them immediately with the tzatziki on the side.