Tempura Zucchini Flowers

Every summer, without fail, I grow more zucchini plants than I need. I think it happens because I buy a punnet of seedlings and there are always at least six tiny zuchini plants in it. Some years I losea few seedlings to snails or mistreatment. Some years, all of them survive. Those are the years when dealing with excess zucchinis becomes almost a full time occupation.

This year four out of the six survived and all four of them are producing fruit. You can see here how big and lush they’re looking – forming a backdrop to this photo of my niece.

Alice in a yellow dress I made.

The plants are so big they’re even providing shade for my chickens.

I love that my zucchinis are now big enough that the chickens can shelter in the shade of them.

Every year I try to come up with more and better ways of eating them. I’ll aim to explore some of those ideas here. One thing I’ve meant to do for years and never have is eat some of the flowers themselves. It strikes me as an elegant way of managing the zucchini population. Eat some of the flowers before they become enormous green zucchinis! If you’ve never heard of doing such a thing, trust me, it’s worth trying. I recall eating them, stuffed and battered, at a lunch once. I was transfixed. They were sublime. I don’t know why I waited so long to try my hand at it when it was so simple.

All over the net you’ll find recipes for stuffed zucchini flowers. I decided not to stuff them, for my first attempt, mainly because most recipes stuff them with cheese and I’m currently dairy free (that’s a whole other series of post topics!). Also, stuffing them seemed more fiddly than I wanted to be on my first go. So I decided in the end to simply coat them in a light tempura batter using a recipe I found here.

At dawn yesterday (because I happened to be up and because it seemed wise to pick them before the heat of the day kicked in) I picked eight zucchini flowers. Both male and female. The male flowers are on a stalk. The female flowers have small zucchinis attached.

Today I will cook zucchini flowers for the first time! That should slow down production...

I kept them on a plate in the fridge until later in the day when I needed them. I was worried they were fragile and wouldn’t be as good by the end of the day but they were fine.

I washed them gently – they weren’t very dirty but my chickens scratch around them a lot so there was some soil to remove. I carefully cut out the stamen and other bits in the centre of the flowers (not easy when the female flowers were still closed!). Then I mixed up the tempura batter (see recipe here) and we cooked them in olive oil in the wok, outside on the BBQ’s wok burner. The whole process took about ten minutes. After letting them drain on paper towel for a few minutes, we poured a glass of Rose wine and ate our delicate flowers happily.

Been waiting all day for my zucchini flowers and a glass of rosè

I left the small zucchinis attached and was really pleased I did so. They fried quickly and were so tasty at the end of the flowers!

I would like my tempura batter to be a little thinner next time (more water, I suppose) but that’s about the only thing I’d change. There was possibly more batter on them than I’d like but it’s a minor quibble. And I think they should be eaten quickly, before the crunch goes from the batter. My husband described the flavour as zucchini flavoured air. Quite apt really.

Now I can’t wait for more flowers to bloom. I’m already thinking about how I’ll stuff the next lot.

In case you’ve wondered where our blog went for the last six months, thank you for coming back and reading. We let it slide and are starting 2012 feeling renewed and ready to see where our culinary adventures will take us. We hope you keep reading!



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Hilyard
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 14:18:52

    I used to buy them regularly at Frank’s In Haberfield – a great fruit shop if you are ever in the inner west – and though they are a little delicate, they do last OK for a few days – cover then lightly with some damp paper towel in the fridge, or just on the bench of it’s not too hot …


  2. 2paw
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 16:53:13

    How fabulous!! I love tempura-ed food. I am very impressed by your adventurous cooking.


  3. Brinal
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 17:04:07

    Loved your not on Zucchini Flower can’t wait to try them myself, except I need to try and find them my green grocer hoping they would have them. I actually have pumkins growing in my little yard, could I use the pumkin flowers instead of Zucchini flowers?
    I love it how you have chickens as well, I would love to have chickens, my backyard is too small. Your chickens look very cute!


  4. Delly
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 13:05:02

    I love the look of these. They look so classy! Glad you are back to blogging again here. I will do my best to post very soon.


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