There are some ingredients that just cry out to be stuffed. I’m not talking about whole chicken or turkey, which actually taste better if the stuffing is cooked separately (although I suppose it shouldn’t really be called stuffing then). But the likes of zucchini blossoms, other types of squash, chillies and squid all have natural cavities that can be stuffed with a delicious filling before cooking.
Fried stuffed zucchini blossoms
You should use this recipe soon because the season for zucchini blossoms is brief. They’re not the easiest ingredient to source: I’ve seen them in Hong Kong a few times in shops such as Great, and in wet markets. I have found other types of squash blossoms, though, and you can substitute those as long as they’re not too large. Your best bet for zucchini blossoms is buying them online from Buonissimo, where you can also find ingredients for the accompanying antipasti platter.
8-10 zucchini blossoms
250 grams ricotta cheese
10-12 anchovies in olive oil
20 grams freshly grated parmesan
Fine sea salt and freshly ground
130 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
330ml soda water, chilled
Cooking oil, for frying
Take the ricotta from its packaging and place it in a colander on a triple layer of paper towels. Leave in the fridge for about an hour, to drain off excess moisture.
Prepare the zucchini blossoms. Very gently separate the leaves without tearing them, then reach inside and carefully pinch off the pistil or stamen.
Blot the anchovies on paper towels to remove the excess oil. Finely chop the anchovies, then mix them with the ricotta, parmesan and some black pepper. Taste the mixture and add salt, if needed (the anchovies and parmesan are salty). Mix in the egg. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with an 8mm plain tip. Pipe the mixture into the zucchini blossoms, filling them as much as possible without overstuffing them (you’ll need someone to
help you with this: one person to hold the zucchini blossoms with the petals together and an opening at the top, the other to do the piping). Shape the petals around the mixture to enclose it entirely.
Pour oil to the depth of about 4cm in a wok or skillet, then place it over a medium-high flame and heat to 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix the batter just before frying the blossoms. Put the flour in a bowl and mix in one teaspoon of salt. Add the cold soda water to the bowl and mix it in with a pair of chopsticks: do not overmix; the batter should be slightly lumpy. Dip your finger into the batter to check the consistency. The batter should lightly coat your finger; if it’s too thin, mix in a little more flour.
When the oil is hot enough, dip a zucchini blossom into the batter to coat it entirely, then place it in the oil. Fry several blossoms at a time but do not overcrowd the pan. Fry the blossoms, turning them over as needed, until the batter is firm and pale golden (two to three minutes). Drain on paper towels then serve as part of an antipasti platter.
500 grams squid, with bodies about
225 grams minced pork
1 garlic clove, minced
1 spring onion, minced
A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped
10ml Vietnamese fish sauce
¼ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
A pinch of ground white pepper
For the sauce:
45ml Vietnamese fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 red bird’s-eye chilli, cut into thin rings
About 20ml fresh lime juice
About 5 grams granulated sugar
Fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish
Clean the squid by pulling the tentacles and head from the body. Remove the innards, transparent quill and ink sac from the body and discard. Pull off and discard the skin. Cut the head and beak from the tentacles. Finely chop the tentacles and mix them with the pork, garlic, spring onion, chopped coriander, fish sauce, sugar, salt and white pepper. Dry the squid bodies with paper towels then loosely stuff the meat mixture into the cavities – do not pack it in. Secure the opening of the body with a toothpick. Lay the stuffed squid on a heat-proof dish. Shape the leftover meat mixture into balls about 2cm in diameter and lay them on the dish.
Heat water in the bottom of a tiered steamer and, when it boils, place the dish of squid and meatballs on a rack. Cover the steamer with the lid and steam the ingredients for 10 minutes, or until cooked.
While the squid is steaming, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Mix in 20ml of water then taste, adjusting the seasonings as needed. If it’s too strong, add a little more water.
When the squid is cooked, take the dish from the steamer. Lay the squid and meatballs on a serving plate, then drizzle the sauce on top. Garnish with the coriander sprigs and serve immediately.
Styling: Nellie Ming Lee
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