Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fried Parsnip Slices

Ah yes, the humble and venerable parsnip!


This veggie has been known and eaten since antiquity. The ancient Romans considered the ones from what is now Germany but was then called Germanica to be the best. They were also a staple diet of the poor in the Middle Ages --that means prit-near everyone in Europe back then ate 'em! Parsnips were also used as a side dish to salted cod or smoked herrings as they complimented the strong fish flavours nicely.

They fell out of fancy as the ole humble spud from the New World gradually replaced them. Even to this day there are many that hate parsnips, probably from ingrained thinking over the last few hundred years.

There's one Aussie TV chef/personality who caused quite a stir (Ha! "A stir" get it?) a couple of years ago when he went on a bit of a rant against parsnips as they are starting to come into fashion down here in Oz. Says he wouldn't even feed 'em to a pig!

Believe or not Ripley, but until recently I'd never had a parsnip nor even knew what they looked like! I got a few kilos of them at a ridiculously low price a coupla months ago and asked via twitter what I should do with them.

Quite a lot of great suggestions I did receive. Curry was one of the suggestions but I didn't want to make that first as I wanted something that let the parsnip flavour speak for itself. So I went with the by far #1 suggestion of parsnip chips (fries)!

I even baked one batch and deep fried another to find out the taste difference. Not surprisingly, the deep fried ones tasted better. Well, at least to us! I made the baked ones the first day and we all thought they were tasty, even BIL who is a very fussy eater and doesn't eat many veggies. But the deep fried ones the next day were waaaaay better! The whole platter of them disappeared in under a minute.

Not that I was timing it though, too busy eating!

The key to baking or frying the parsnips is to slice them lengthwise making sure all slices have the same thickness. Otherwise thin strips will be burnt before the thick strips are done. After peeling the parnsips I contemplated how to do this.

"Duh," my brain said, "use a cheese slicer you moron!"

Wouldn't you know it worked great? Yes, my brain can be smart at times. Here's proof (of the procedure working, not my brain being smart)

To bake them, toss the strips in olive oil, lightly salt them, and put them in a hot oven till they're crispy. They come out lookin', smellin' and tastin' good!

For even better ones: deep fry them thar strips! Use the same temperature of oil as you would for fries, no worries. I recommend rice bran oil as it has a very high smoke point of 495 F and the fried food comes out light and crisp.

The strips fry up very quickly so keep a close eye on them else you'll end up with burnt strips of crud. So don't go tweeting while deep frying!

Here's what the first round out of the wok (my deep fryer) looked like:

Just a quick sprinkle with salt and then EAT THEM!


Erin Wallace said...

I LOVE fried parsnips. My grandpa used to tell me that they were "better than candy" and he was (almost) right!

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Erin: I'm siding with your grandpa as my sweet tooth has a distinct savoury bent to it!