Trend alert! Fried fresh herbs are popping up on restaurant dishes all over the place these days. It’s nothing new for hearty herbs such as sage or rosemary, but we’re finding delicate herbs like basil, mint and parsley being fried up as well.
What do fried herbs add to a dish? Texture, elegance and flavour. On top of that delightful crunch, fried herbs are simply gorgeous. When fried properly, they resemble stained-glass; and their translucency reveals the wonderful detailing on the leaves of the herbs. Finally, fried herbs are have a subtle flavour making them a perfect garnish. Here’s how to make them:
Fried Fresh Basil, Mint or Parsley
- Pick herbs and wash and dry them thoroughly. The herbs need to be very dry to prevent spattering when fried.
- Bring 1/4-inch vegetable oil to 325F in a small pot (to test the heat, drop a small piece of bread into the oil and it should turn golden brown in about 40 seconds). Notice this is a little lower the typical frying temperature; herbs react better to this temperature because of their delicacy.
- Working in batches, drop a few herbs at a time into the hot oil. Cook for 30 seconds. Flip over using tongs and continue cooking for 30 seconds to 1 min, or until the herb appears slightly darkened in colour and evenly fried. Gently remove from oil with tongs and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
The herbs should dry to a firm and crisp finish when cooked properly. They should also retain their green colour. If they appear a bit brown, the oil was likely to hot. Try again by reducing the oil temperature slightly and decreasing the cook time. The finished product should look like stained glass.
Originally published November 4th, 2014.