Take everything you’ve learned about prepping artichokes and throw it out the window — well almost. I’ll get into this a little bit later, but first these edible flower buds are some delicious eats and are a surprisingly versatile ingredient. Eat them raw, roasted, grilled, braised, baked, and the list keeps going.
Mrs. B & B favors steamed large artichokes. She dips the outer leaves in butter and then devours the meaty inner heart. I prefer deep fried baby artichokes. The leaves become crisp and nutty, while the inner heart becomes tender and retains its unique artichoke flavor.
Recipes typically call for freshly cut artichokes to be placed in acidulated water to prevent oxidizing and subsequent browning. Since deep fried artichokes brown when cooked, I wanted to find out if this was really a necessary step. So I performed a little experiment. Before deep frying I prepped the artichokes two ways. After cutting, I submerged the first in acidulated water (the traditional method), and the second I let sit out for 25 minutes before frying. Turns out there wasn’t any difference in the final product in either taste or appearance. So when frying artichokes, skip the acidulated water step if the time between prepping and cooking is less than thirty minutes.
People love to hate anchovies. Truthfully, I’m not a “fishy-fish” kinda guy myself. When used in small amounts however, anchovies add a salty, umami quality to food without a distinct fish flavor. Most people don’t realize that freshly made caesar salad dressing contains anchovies. My recipe for caper and anchovy aioli is going to hit you over the head with flavor but not with fish. If you’re still skeptical, simply omit it or use half the amount and add additional to taste.
And if you want artichokes but don’t want them fried, don’t sweat it, the aioli will be a great accompaniment regardless how you prepare them.
Fried Baby Artichokes with Caper Anchovy Aioli
Serving Size: 4 appetizer
For the aioli
- 1 large egg yoik
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup vegetable or other neutral flavored oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 roasted garlic cloves or 1 smaller raw garlic clove mashed into a paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
For the artichokes
- Oil for frying
- 16 baby artichokes
For the aioli
- Add the yolk, lemon juice and mustard to a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
- Begin to add the oil in very small amounts and whisk vigorously until the oil is incorporated and the aioli is thickened.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning.
- Transfer to a nonreactive bowl and refrigerate until use.
For the artichokes
- Prepare the deep fryer or cooking vessel. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
- Peel off the dark outer leaves until the pale inner leaves are exposed.
- Cut off the top third of the artichoke and discard the leaves.
- Using a knife, trim away any fibrous portions at the base so only pale flesh is seen.
- Gently use your fingers to spread the leaves apart (see photo)
- Fry the artichokes until the leaves are golden brown and the heart is soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the artichokes and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.
- Serve with the caper anchovy aioli.
The amount of oil for frying depends on the pot being used. Plan to have enough oil so the artichokes have at least an inch of room from top to bottom. Do not overcrowd as this will decrease the oil temperature. Vegetable oil can be used but oils with higher smoke points such as peanut are preferred.