Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Put a Bird In It?

Bird's Nest Fritters with Soy Sesame Mayo (Inspired By Chee)
What in the world to do with so much zucchini? Let's be honest, even if you LOVE zucchini, it grows like a weed and by the end of the season, you're scrabbling to think of something new to do with it. Another side dish? Pasta? More zucchini bread? My answer? Honestly, anything fried in oil and topped with some sort of mayonnaise-based sauce is worth a try. This recipe comes from two inspirations. First, the two remaining zucchini that have been sitting on my counter for the past week were in desperate need of consumption (one way or another). Second, I remembered Chee. A student spending a year abroad at our university from Japan, Chee endeared herself to pretty much everyone she met. She spent Thanksgiving weekend at my place and won a place in my heart as a willing and appreciative eater of the many recipes I concocted (everything from steak breakfast burritos to pumpkin cheesecake). Over the weekend, we took in lunch at a conveyer-belt sushi place when we saw a plate whirl by with these little straw-like potato and veggie cakes. "Oooo," Chee exclaimed. "Bird's Nests! They are so good." She was right. Served with a little drizzle of gyoza sauce, they sure hit the spot! I put a spin on the potato recipe, by  making use of the zucchini, carrots, and some green onions from my garden. I made them up as a side to teriyaki salmon. It was a perfect (and quick) little dinner. The soy sesame mayo also made a great topping for the fish. Coincidentally enough, after deciding to make this for dinner, I came home and found a letter from Chee in my mail box. Life can be funny  . . . and food brings us all together.

- 2 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise with the seeds scraped out and discarded, then grated on the large side of a box grater
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
- l large green onion, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 c. flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or grape seed oil
-  2 tsp. hot sesame oil, divided
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots, zucchini, flour, baking powder, beaten egg, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and green onions. Sprinkle mixture with a little salt and pepper and stir to combine. Stir or use hands to thoroughly combine mixture.

Using hands, form balls, a little larger than the size of golf balls. Flatten slightly with palms and arrange in a single layer on a dish to be fried.

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. Add zucchini fritters to oil and arrange in a single layer in pan. Fry in oil until each side has begun to turn a nice, crisp golden brown shade. It will take about 2-3 minutes per side. Watch to make sure they don't burn. Once they are nicely brown, remove from oil with a spatula and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer to an oven-proof dish and bake in oven for an additional 10 minutes.

While the bird's nests are baking, combine mayo, garlic, remaining sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce in a small dish. Whisk together with a fork to thoroughly incorporate ingredients.

Serve cooked bird's nests topped with soy ginger mayo. They make a delicious side dish for dinner or a lovely accompaniment with eggs for breakfast. Yum! Thanks Chee for the culinary inspiration!

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