Fritters fit right in among bar-friendly fare. They are compellingly crunchy, hand-held and easy to eat. They also are well-suited to sharing and match well to many beverage choices. From back-of-the-house and bottom-line perspectives, they are equally on target. This article first appeared in the 15 March 2006 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
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Fritters are easily made ahead and fried to order or purchased frozen and prepared as needed. Crab, corn, apples and bananas star in standard recipes, but the simple formula puts few limits on creative kitchens.
Chef- owner Ming Tsai pairs conch fritters with seafood bisque at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass., while carrot-and- leek fritters with curry mayonnaise are among vegetarian options at Washington University in St. Louis, where dining services are run by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bon Appétit Management Co. Prepared or house-made accompaniments - think dipping sauces or lightly dressed greens - offer another opportunity to whet appetites. At modern steakhouse Taurus in Atlanta, Chef-owner Gary Mennie complements the simple crab fritters shown at left with a tangy mayonnaise-based sauce that includes eggs, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and sambal oelek.
1. Beyond the sea
Seafood-focused starters lend a touch of panache to bar settings, but food-cost-friendly substitutes including chicken, black or garbanzo beans, leftover risotto or cooked vegetables can stand in for costlier items.
2. Crisp finishes At Taurus in Atlanta, Chef-owner Gary Mennie coats peeky-toe crab filling with butter-rich brioche breadcrumbs. Japanese panko can be used for a more-delicate finish while cracker crumbs or cornflakes lead to a range of nuances.
3. Deep-fried and fabulous
Proper frying is essential to the process. Make sure oil is clean, free of debris and at the proper temperature. Once fried, make sure the food is well drained and dispatched to the table immediately.