As one of the first bright harbingers of Spring, dandelions can be found in most growing zones throughout the world. It is an invasive species in most areas that is generally accepted as an unavoidable annoying neighbour. Yet this ‘weed’ has been used in many different culinary ways, like a coffee replacement/exender, salad greens, pot herb and as a bright yellow garnish. Today though, I am looking at the flowers alone, to make a deep fried snack. Inspired by a wild edibles cookbook for children, Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes, by Jean Craighead George, where dandelion fritters was on the menu, I turned to a gluten free option so that both my husband and I could sample the results.
Panko is the traditional final coating of tempura. It is usually made with wheat flour. Lucky for us, Kikkoman has made a gluten-free version that has made its way to most specialty diets or international isles in mainstream grocery stores.
a few handfuls of fresh dandelion flowers
1 ½ cup of gluten free panko
1 tbsp .water
7 heaping tbsp. corn starch
enough canola oil to cover the bottom of your pan by 1 inch
high walled pot (the oil will spatter!)
paper towel lined plate
I had previously gathered my dandelion flowers,
then washed and patted dry with paper towels.
Following the instructions on the back, I ready my 3 dredging bowls, corn starch, beaten egg and water, and gluten free panko.
While I have an inch of canola oil heating up on the stove, on medium low heat, I start to prepare th
e individual flowers, by first dusting them with cornstarch, then dredging them in the egg/water and finally in the gluten-free panko. The oil is hot enough when you drop a bit of the panko into it and it instantly bubbles up.
When all your flowers are battered and ready to go, gently drop them one by one into the oil until there is a single layer of tempura in the pot. It may take more than one batch depending on the size of your pot and how many flowers you picked. Due to the delicate nature of this type of tempura you only want to leave the battered flowers in the oil for a few seconds. Almost as soon as you put them in you will want to remove them with a slotted spoon. Let them drain on a paper towel lined plate.
The finished dandelion tempura have a light bitter flavour that pairs them easily with any dipping sauce of your choice. I chose b-b-q or tartar sauce.
This crunchy snack can also be a side dish to any meat or fish, with a heaping salad of dandelion greens, early chives, and young horseradish leaves, to name but a few options.