Monday, 19 September 2011

Prawn, fennel and feta fritters with spicy tomato sauce

In the last two weeks, I've swung from craving hot, stodgy comfort foods (on the cold, drizzly wind-swept days) to thirst-quenching, al-fresco meals (in those strange moments when the clouds part, a choir sings and the sun blazes out for a few precious hours). Frankly, I'm exhausted with all this "is it Summer or is it Autumn?" menu planning, so I'm just gonna eat whatever I like. No more eating with the seasons until they make up their mind.

These fritters are nicely crisp and packed with umami moreishness, so satisfy my winter-cravings, but can be lightened up and served with a summery salad on the side if you like. Dual-personality food cravings fixed!

I used some of my treasured Black Russian tomatoes for the sauce to accompany this dish - if you don't grow your own, try to find properly ripe specimens or the sauce won't pack the required sun-filled punch.

Serves 4 as a starter

~for the fritters
1 bulb fennel (about 200g in weight), halved lengthways then very finely sliced
1 tsp olive oil
225g raw prawns
100g feta cubes, crumbled
2 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp corn flour
2 eggs
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp finely chopped chives
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

~for the sauce
325g fresh tomatoes, diced
8 tbsp passata
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped, seeds included
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1) Take the finely sliced fennel and sautee in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for five minutes, until softened through.

2) Now make the tomato sauce by heating the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, then gently frying the garlic and chilli for a minute until the garlic is just starting to turn golden. Add the tomatoes, passata and 100g of the cooked fennel and allow to simmer for twenty minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

3) To make the fritters, stir together the feta, raw prawns, rice and corn flour, egg yolks and remaining fennel. Whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks, then gently fold into the prawn mixture with the chives and fennel seeds.

4) Fill a non-stick frying pan 0.5cm deep with vegetable oil, and heat over a medium heat. Cook heaped tablespoons of the mixture for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then flip over and repeat on the other side. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately with the tomato sauce.

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