Yesterday I asked you to indulge me in a little meditation exercise of sorts. We wandered around imaginary gardens and restaurants, noting colour, texture, taste and aroma. We sniffed, we tasted, we digested, we were omniscient. With my subtle-as-a-sledgehammer sketches I was hoping to lead us to think about what we get out of our food. I admit that it was pretty crudely drawn, but I hope you know it was from the heart.
Nothing quite so earnest today, you’ll be glad to know. Today it is a straight up, simple-as treatment for a much under-sung spring vegetable, the spring onion (this link tells us the difference between all of the lovely long alliums). This is a vegetable I for one think nothing much about as I duly sling a bunch into my cart every week. It is one of those background ingredients that we may acknowledge are very useful but never get too excited about. It is an onion for goodness sake.
But I recently saw a tiny snippet in April’s Bon Appetit that saw me head straight for my fridge. Right in the fold of a page was just the merest mention of “Buttermilk Fried Ramps.” No nicely-shot image to tempt; just the words ‘buttermilk’, ‘fried’ and ‘ramps’ in close proximity. That was enough for me. Ramps (wild garlic) are now past their best (boo) but I thought I might try to riff on this basic idea and make a crunchy, almost “bloomin’ onion” snack with my humble bunch of spring onions. But not fried, and not with buttermilk. And with Japanese flavours rather than the southern comfort approach Bon App suggests. Luckily, it worked. Boy howdy, it worked. Four batches in a row, worked.
So far no crunchy spring onion has made it to a table. In truth I don’t think we have even eaten them sitting down (bad food to glow). Like kale crisps, these crunchy little alliums skip the middle man option of a plate, disappearing from the baking tray and straight into the wasabi-lime mayo. A lovely little snack or appetizer, to make on a whim, to use up spring onions, or as part of a planned meal. Seriously addictive.
Oh, and if you want to share your own vegetarian creations, why not link up with UK home decoration specialists Bettaliving using the hashtag #bettaveggies? Follow/tweet to @bettaliving to participate. Or leave your ideas and links on their dedicated National Vegetarian Week page.
Crunchy Spring Onions with Wasabi-Lime Mayo
Mild but snappy, spring onions/scallions are used quite a lot in Asian cooking, so I thought I might combine a bit of southern technique with some hallmark Japanese flavours. I hope you like it. PS The measurements aren’t massively important, just ballpark figures.
1 large bunch very fresh, intact spring onions, washed
4 tbsp flour of any kind
1 cup plant milk (cashew, almond, hemp etc)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp wasabi paste – divided use
1 cup ground rice or corn meal/polenta (I used ground rice)
2 tbsp neutral oil
4 tbsp best mayonnaise – vegan or egg
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Togarashi seasoning, optional for sprinkling (can be very hot)
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F.
3. Toss the spring onions in the flour, dip in the milk (roll the onions gently to completely coat) and then toss around in the rice or polenta until well coated – there will probably be some bare patches.
4. Pour the oil onto a baking tray and pop it in the oven for three minutes. remove the tray and lay on the onions. Place in the oven and bake for eight-10 minutes. Flip the onions and bake until quite brown in patches (the green tops will get browner than the dense white parts) and bulb end is soft when pressed.
5. Mix together the mayonnaise, the lime juice and the remaining one teaspoon of wasabi. Sprinkle the baked onions with togarashi and serve with the flavoured mayonnaise.
Note: these crunchy spring onions are delicious without the Japanese additions, so don’t be put off making this for lack of these ingredients. Keep everything ‘plain’ and sprinkle with salt and pepper when serving with either yogurt or mayonnaise. Add some chives to the mayo or yogurt for extra oomph and seasonal yumminess.
Disclosure: This recipe is a sponsored post.