The idea for these comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Zuni Café Cookbook by the late Judy Rodgers. They are so unexpectedly moreish that there is a fine argument for eating them on their own, with just a sprinkle of salt – do try them that way at least once. But there are other things that do enhance the flavor. Lemon is good with a fine sprinkling of sumac or fennel pollen, lime loves a dash of smoked chili or cayenne, whilst orange I like with herbes de Provence or za’atar.
- 2 –3 citrus fruits a variety is good
- 7 tablespoons buttermilk
- Generous 1/2 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon semolina or fine cornmeal
- A neutral-tasting oil such as groundnut or sunflower, for deep-frying
A PINCH OF...
- Smoked chili chipotle or hot smoked paprika (for lime slices)
- Herbes de Provence or za’atar for orange slices
- Fennel pollen or sumac for lemon slices
FOR THE YOGURT DIP
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
- A pinch of sugar
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If serving with the dip, make this first – simply mix everything together and season with salt and pepper.
- Top and tail the citrus fruit to the point where you get a good showing of flesh as opposed to pith and skin. Slice the fruit as finely as possible while keeping each slice intact, removing any pips.
- Put the buttermilk in a bowl. Put the flour and semolina onto a plate and season with salt and pepper, then whisk briefly to combine and get rid of any lumps.
- Dip the citrus slices in the buttermilk and shake or lightly scrape them to get rid of any excess. Drop the slices into the flour mixture and give the plate a little shake. Flip over and repeat. Dust off any excess – you don’t want a thick coating as you want to see the detail from the citrus through the batter.
- Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a heavy-based saucepan or fryer to about 180ºC/350ºF. Fry the slices a few at a time – when they start to go golden brown remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper. The slices will continue to brown once they are removed and will be nicely caramelized in patches.
- Sprinkle with salt, then the corresponding spices and/or herbs for each fruit and serve with yogurt dip, if you like.