Gluten Free Tempura Artichoke Hearts with Vegan Goody-Goody Sauce Recipe
As a person who has been transplanted from the San Francisco Bay area of California to the Tampa Bay area of Florida there are things I miss about California; the culture, the progressive restaurants (many of which have a great selection of gluten free recipes available) and the divergence of locals all in easy reach of one another.
In forty-five minutes I could be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world or, driving the same amount of time in the opposite direction, in a quaint, hippy college town on the beach. In half that time I could be hiking in the hills. In about 4 hours I could be in Lake Tahoe; water sports and gaming in the summer, skiing (and gaming) in the winter. I was surrounded by Silicon Valley with its high energy, high tech, big business feel but a short car ride ended me up in Monterey County with its ruggedly beautiful beaches, acres upon acres of farm land and maybe best of all – artichokes!
Before going gluten free, every trip to Monterey County included stopping at some road side dive for fried artichoke hearts. Maybe it is because of an upcoming trip home in March that fried artichokes have been on my mind lately. Knowing I would not be able to indulge, I decided to try my hand at making some at home.
You know me, I like to keep things simple which is why I started off with canned artichoke hearts – if you would like to buy a dozen artichokes, peel off the spiny leaves at your own risk, scrape away the grizzly center thistle, cut them up and place in lemon water and do it all quickly so as not to let the chokes turn brown, then be my guest. If not then just do as I do and use canned or even thawed frozen artichoke hearts and let someone else do all that work.
I made a simple tempura batter out of rice flour and ice cold club soda, fried them in screaming hot vegetable oil (the trick to fried food that isn’t greasy is HOT OIL) and served them with a gluten free, vegan version of one of my Japanese steak house favorites – Goody-Goody Sauce made with Vegenaise. As much as I loved the fried artichoke hearts at the road side dives in Monterey County, I have to say I liked these better – they were lighter, crispier and more than a little addictive!
If you are going to give this recipe a go at your house (and I highly recommend you do!) here’s a few tips:
- Make your Goody-Goody Sauce first so the flavors have time to meld and so it’s ready when the artichokes are done.
- Get all your equipment and ingredients out before you start – line a couple oven-safe plates with paper towels and heat the oven to 200 degrees to keep the artichokes warm. Also have your kosher salt on hand so you can give each batch a light sprinkle as soon as they come out of the oil.
- Dry your artichoke hearts on paper toweling before putting them into the tempura batter.
- Use really cold club soda – I put my refrigerated club soda into the freezer while my oil was heating to make sure it was REALLY cold. Mix your tempura batter when the oil is almost to 375 degrees.
- Use a high sided, heavy saucepan for frying. Of course if you happen to have a deep fryer, then all the better but it is really not necessary.
- Use a fry or candy thermometer so you can accurately gauge the temperature of the oil.
- Keep the temperature of the oil between 350 and 375 degrees – if the temp drops while frying a batch let it come back up before starting your next batch.
- Fry your artichokes in small batches – about 6 at a time so the temperature stays fairly even.
- Don’t use the same slotted spoon to remove the artichokes from the oil as you used to put them in.
- After frying each batch of artichoke hearts, remove any pieces of fried batter from the oil so they don’t burn and give your oil a burned flavor (these are actually pretty good to snack on while frying the rest of the artichokes).
- If soy is an issue, use soy free Vegenaise and Earth Balance.
- Keep your husband (wife, significant other, kids, friends, etc.) out of the kitchen while making these if you actually want to have any left to serve.
- An ice cold glass of good sake makes a really perfect accompaniment to this recipe.
- ¾ cup Vegenaise (egg free mayonnaise substitute)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 small clove garlic , finely minced or grated on a microplane grater
- 1½ teaspoons melted Earth Balance (dairy free butter substitute)
- 2 teaspoons sugar or light agave
- 2 4 dashes Tabasco sauce (hot sauce)
- 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts (not marinated) or 2 packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- 3– 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1½ cups white rice flour (possibly more)
- 1½ cups cold club soda (possibly more)
- Kosher or fine sea salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Put in small serving dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to 3 days ahead.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 oven proof plates with several layers of paper towels.
Drain the artichoke hearts and place on a couple layers of paper towels, pat dry.
Fill a heavy, high-sided saucepan with about 3 inches of oil. Heat oil to 375 degrees (use a fry or candy thermometer to gauge temperature).
When the oil is almost to temperature, whisk 1½ cups rice flour with 1½ cups cold club soda until smooth. You should have a batter the consistency of thick pancake batter, if too thin add a little more rice flour, if too thick add some more club soda.
Put about 6 artichoke heart quarters into the batter and coat each one by turning in the batter with a slotted spoon. Remove each artichoke heart quarter individually with the slotted spoon, let some of the batter drip off back into the bowl and then carefully place in the hot oil. Fry until lightly golden with a few darker brown spots, about 2 – 3 minutes per batch. Remove from the oil and place on prepared plates. Sprinkle with some salt. Place in oven to keep warm. If the oil has dropped below 350 degrees, let it come back up to temperature before frying the next batch. Continue until all the artichokes heart quarters have been fried.
Serve hot with the Goody-Goody Sauce.
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