Tempura-Battered Hogweed Shoots
Tender hogweed shoots fried in a light, crispy batter are popular with adults and kids alike. When collecting common hogweed shoots for this recipe, choose smallish ones where the leaves are not yet fully opened. Sparkling water is used to aerate the batter – make sure it is thoroughly chilled for best results. Serve the tempura with whatever dipping sauce you like – try our wild garlic mayonnaise, or if you like spicy food, try the wild garlic and chilli dipping sauce below.
- 350g common hogweed shoots
- Sunflower or vegetable for deep-frying
- 70g cornflour
- 30g plain flour
- 150ml sparkling water, well chilled
- ½ teaspoon salt
WILD GARLIC AND CHILLI DIPPING SAUCE
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-2 fresh red chillies
- 5 wild garlic leaves, plus a handful
- of flowers if available
- Wash the hogweed shoots and dry them well – spin them in a salad spinner if you have one, then gently blot them with kitchen paper to remove excess water.
- Prepare the oil for deep frying. If using a deep-fat fryer, preheat the oil to 180˚C. If you’re using a pan, choose a wide, deep one and do not fill it above a third of its depth with oil. Set over a high heat, and to test if it is ready for frying drop a little batter into the oil – if it immediately rises surrounded in bubbles, the oil is hot enough.
- While the oil is heating up, make the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce with the lemon juice and six tablespoons of cold water. Top and tail the red chillies and chop them finely. Lay the wild garlic leaves one on top of the other and roll them up tightly. Slice the roll into fine shreds and then chop the shreds finely. Mix the chillies and chopped wild garlic into the sauce and stir well to combine. Sprinkle over the garlic flowers (if using) and set aside.
- At the very last minute, just before the oil is up to temperature, make the tempura batter. Put the flours and salt into a shallow bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the sparkling water and whisk until evenly combined (don’t worry about any small lumps, the key to a light batter is not to over-mix). Depending on your flour, you may need to add a little more water – the batter should be the consistency of single cream.
- When the oil is ready for frying, dip a hogweed shoot in the batter, lift it up over the bowl to let excess batter drain off, and lower it carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with the other shoots until you have a single layer of them frying, but do not overcrowd the pan or the tempura might stick to each other or become greasy.
- Cook the tempura for about 2 minutes, turning during cooking so that they cook evenly, until the hogweed is tender and the the batter is pale gold and crispy.
- Drain the cooked tempura briefly on some kitchen paper. Hand out the hot tempura, with little dishes of the dipping sauce or whatever sauce you prefer, while you cook batches of the remaining hogweed shoots in the same way.
Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise