Forget deep-fried Mars bars and batter some Scottish wild herbs instead
The new book, Herb, by food writer Mark Diacono, is released on April 15.
In it, this cook shares over 100 recipes including rosemary and basil aubergines in za’atar, and bay chestnut chocolate cherry cake. There’s also advice for preserving and pickling.
Mark explains that most of the herbs in the book grow well in Scotland, but suggests that “lovage, sweet cicely, wild garlic and sorrel” thrive particularly well in the wild here.
See extract below for a recipe idea that suits all of these and more.
It’s quite hard to find many things that when submerged into hot fat and dusted with salt aren’t deeply pleasing to eat. Tempura is that perfect blend of completely addictive and insubstantial, so you can keep adding more to the pan in the vain attempt to satisfy your desire for more. One thing is crucial, mix the ingredients quickly together, like you don’t really mean it, to get the flour’s gluten going. Lumps are fine, the batter should – like a dress at Cannes – just cling here and there. Wild garlic flowers and the bolder herbs are the ones to go for: coriander, sage, lemon verbena, parsley and chives are especially good. A sharp chilli-tamarind dip is very good to go with.
Serves 4 as a snack (or 1 greedy pig)
small sprigs of herbs of your choice (see above)
1 Over a medium heat, warm the oil in a medium pan (the oil should come about one-third up the sides). When a cube of bread sizzles to a quick copper, you can fry your battered herbs.
2 Quickly mix the flours, salt, egg yolk and sparkling water together in a large bowl to form a batter; don’t worry about any lumps. Dip the herb into the batter and lower carefully into the hot oil. Expect patchy batter coverage; it is as it should be. Ninety seconds should be enough to fry them perfectly.
3 Fish out on to kitchen paper, using a slotted spoon. Shower with salt and eat in a hurry.
Herb by Mark Diacono (Quadrille, £26) Photography ©Mark Diacono