This recipe is fun, delicious, and you'll probably make a huge mess cooking it. The batter is loosely based on a recipe for fried pearl onions from my Batali cookbook Molto Italiano. While his original idea was certainly good, I wanted to make it into a full meal, and also, he had pecorino romano cheese in the batter, which in my opinion, didn't jive as well with the seafood as it did with the onions. I've included some seafood options to fry up in this mix, but by no means is this the totality of choices. Use your imagination! If it's from the sea, chances are it will work great in here. I decided that I'd kick it over to the East Coast with some old bay instead. Glad I did. You will be too.
Here's what you need:
For the batter:
2 Eggs, separated
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk (1% or 2%, depending on how thin you feel)
Dash of parsley
Healthy dose of Old Bay seasoning
1 pound peeled pearl onions (the little ones, about the size of a marble)
1 pound large scallops
1 pound previously cooked, de-tailed shrimp
About half a bottle of olive oil for frying
Here's what you do:
1) Separate your eggs, and leave put the whites off to the side for now
2) In a large bowl, combine all your dry batter ingredients, then slowly add your milk and eggs. Whisk it all together, or you can use a fork, or your hand or whatever. Leave this off to the side as well.
3) For your onions, boil them for about 2 minutes then dump them into a bowl of ice, or cold water. Theoretically this is called 'blanching.'
4) For your seafood, you can get a big pan ready, and throw everything in, just to heat it up and cook it a little bit before it goes into the batter.
5) So, with all your onions chilling and seafood slowly cooking, you can now whip up your eg whites into stiff peaks. Not going to lie, I have no mechanical or whisk, so I did this by hand, with a fork. It took me about 30 minutes of solid whipping. I don't recommend doing it my way unless you are dedicated to fluffy batter and/or have a mixer. You were warned.
6) Fold the whites into the batter, until they disappear, but don't be too rough with it, egg whites are delicate creatures and should be treated with care.
7) FINALLY, now we can get to the good stuff. Heat up your oil in a large high sided pan/pot.
8) You'll most definitely have to work in batches here, use tongs dip your choice fryables in the batter, shake off the excess and drop into your oil. Wait until it is deliciously golden on all sides then put into a colander or onto some paper towels to drain and dry. Each time you are finished a batch, sprinkle with some more Old Bay, and shake it around to get good coverage.
There you go, that's it. If this seems confusing or my instructions aren't quite clear, just use your head and think about this in required steps. It's a pretty hard dish to mess up though, and even though you'll have batter splatter all over your kitchen, it'll be more than worth it. Also, very easy to scale this one up, to serve a whole giant pot to some hungry people.
What to listen to:
Florence and The Machine - Lungs
This is a wicked and diverse album. It fits great because its upbeat, and covers a wide range of styles. The cooking process is quick you you'll feel like you'll be doing lots of stuff at once, but in the end its all worth it. Not sure if this has anything to do with the meal, but I love her voice.
What to drink:
Beer man, beer! This meal just crys out for beer, and not an overpowering one either. Moosehead in Canada, or some Sam Adams lager in the US. Both east coast beers, both very good.