Fritto Misto with Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables
The Italian-inspired fritto misto makes a fantastic appetizer. Take your pick of seafood (this recipe uses shrimp) along with (usually seasonal) vegetables. While there’s room for creativity, we recommend choosing vegetables that will hold up to cooking in the hot frying oil while still managing to reduce into a creamy texture that contrasts with the tempura batter’s crispy exterior.
The secret to achieving an extra crunchy tempura shell? Using a high-quality sparkling water. Chef William Dissen is a fan of Mountain Valley Spring Water, known for its direct sourcing from the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas, robust minerality, and balanced pH.
½ cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
1½ cups Mountain Valley Spring Water
Sliced vegetables (Dissen suggests cooked sweet potatoes, broccoli, spring onions, onion rings, wild ramps, mushrooms)
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
3 ramps, leaves and bulbs separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Make the Fritto Misto
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the cornstarch and flour. Using a whisk; gently whisk in the Mountain Valley Sparkling Water until the tempura batter has the consistency of crepe batter. It should be light and airy and not too thick.
- Heat a medium-sized pot with oil to 350 degrees. While the oil heats, line a plate or tray with paper towels and set aside.
- Working one by one, dip the vegetables and shrimp into the tempura batter, and gently place into the fryer oil. Fry each until the tempura is crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon or “spider” to remove the tempura from the oil, and place onto a prepared plate or tray to let drain. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Make the Ramp Aïoli
- Separate ramp bulbs from the leaves, and dice the bulbs.
- Over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil to saute pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add ramp bulbs and saute until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- In a small pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Working quickly, blanch the ramp leaves in the boiling water, about 10 seconds, and use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl of ice water to “shock” the leaves. Let cool a couple minutes and remove leaves from the water. Press in a colander or on paper towels to remove excess water.
- Rough chop the leaves. Place in a blender and puree until smooth.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, sauteed ramp leaves, ramp puree, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use–aïoli lasts up to one week in refrigerator.
- By William Dissen of The Market Place, Billy D's Fried Chicken, and Haymaker, Asheville, North Carolina