Despite my moral imperative to tweak and tinker in the kitchen, finding new ways to eat the same thing or wanting to make the same ol’ same ol’ taste juuuust a little better, I often find myself going back to my old ways. Some of it may be the comfort of familiarity but other times I think that you’re truly able appreciate what you already have cuz you’ve traveled the world and realize that this is where your heart lies. So while the novelty of squash blossom tempura was appealing, this is still my favorite way to snarfle these pretty flowers. Because their petals are so delicate, a light dusting of potato starch, or katakuriko 片栗粉, mixed with spices doesn’t weigh them down so much as a traditional batter. A crumbly friable crust with a spicy kick cuz pretty shouldn’t mean insipid.
A few things to consider:
1) The hotter the oil the faster things cook which is great for thin delicate items like squash blossoms; however, you can easily drop the oil temperature by putting too much in at one time. A lower oil temp means a less crispy shell and more oil being absorbed by whatever you’re frying = greasy and limp :(. I try not to fry more than 4-5 things at a time when I’m using a 9 inch skillet.
2) While you want your oil hot ~ 375F, you don’t want to burn paprika as it will develop a bitter taste. These flowers crisp up quickly getting a golden crust after just 10-5 seconds per side so less is more in this case.
3) Why potato starch? Besides being gluten-free (if that’s an issue), potato starch is much finer than flour, giving you a lighter crust. It also seems to absorb less oil than corn starch while sticking well to whatever you’re frying but in a pinch you can substitute corn starch for potato starch. Where to find it? Most Asian groceries, especially Japanese groceries, will carry potato starch and regular groceries usually stock it in their “kosher” section as it’s a common substitute for corn starch during Passover.
4) Since these flowers are so delicate, I find it easiest to remove the bitter, bright yellow stamen by taking a small sharp pair of scissors, like herb scissors, and snipping off the stamen then shaking it out of the flower. You can also pull them off with your fingers but I find that even with my small hands the petals tend to tear open with this method.
10 squash blossoms, stamens removed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Hungarian or sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 c potato starch
1 c vegetable oil
Mix salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and potato starch together in a 1 gallon zip bag. Set aside. Place blossom in potato starch mixture and seal bag. Shake bag to coat blossom. Remove blossom, shaking off excess coating, and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining blossoms.
Heat oil in a large skillet till a drop of water evaporates in 1 second or until 375F. Fry blossoms till golden ~ 10-5 seconds per side. Sprinkle with salt, serves 3.