"Spring onions can be found year round but, as their name suggests, they're best in spring," says Danielle Alvarez. "The technique for these fritters was taught to me by a Persian chef, but the batter is a straight Japanese tempura. Combined with preserved-lemon mayonnaise, they're a lovely little canapé for a spring feast." Makes 16 fritters.
- 8 bulbous spring onions (salad onions), stems trimmed to 3cm from top of bulb
- 12 broad bean leaf tips (see note)
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- To serve: lemon wedges
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 preserved lemon, rinsed, flesh and pith discarded, rind coarsely chopped
- 250 ml (1 cup) olive oil
- To taste: lemon juice
- To serve: smoked paprika
- 200 gm (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
- 60 gm cornflour
- 1 egg
- 500 ml (2 cups) chilled sparkling water
- 1For preserved lemon mayonnaise, process egg yolks and preserved lemon in a blender then, with motor running, slowly drizzle in oil, adding a few drops of cold water midway through to loosen the mixture. Season to taste with lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate until required. Serve sprinkled with paprika.
- 2Halve spring onions lengthways and slice each half lengthways into strips. Combine in a colander with as much salt as you would use to season a salad and stand until onions wilt and begin to release some of their water (30-35 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, for tempura batter, combine flours in a bowl. Whisk egg and 300ml sparkling water in a separate bowl, add to flours and whisk to just combine (be careful not to overmix; some lumps are okay), then add enough of the remaining sparkling water to reach the consistency of heavy cream (you may not need it all).
- 4Preheat oven to 120C. Heat oil in a large saucepan to 175C. Mix onions in a bowl with enough batter to coat. Drop a tablespoonful into oil to check it holds together (you may need to add more batter), then deep-fry tablespoonfuls in batches until golden (3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towels and keep warm in oven. Dip broad bean leaf tips in batter, shake off excess and deep-fry until golden (1-2 minutes). Serve fritters and broad bean leaf tips hot with preserved-lemon mayonnaise and lemon wedges.
Note Broad bean leaf tips are available from select farmers' markets; substitute large pea tendrils if they're unavailable.
Drink Suggestion: It’s perfect apéritif food, so match this with something crisp and aromatic, such as a wine made from albariño grapes. My favourite is Zarate Rías Baixas from Galicia in Spain. Drink suggestion by Franck Moreau