I recently went back to school, like Billy Madison. Not like Billy Madison in the sense that I’m fighting five year olds for their snack-paks, but like him in the sense that I’m about ten years older than other students and regularly suppress the urge to pinch their youthful faces and scream, “Stay here! Stay as long as you can! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHERISH IT.”
(Unlike them, and seemingly half of my professors, I have held an adult job.)
Basically: school (or at least my school—shout out to UC Berkeley, GO BEARS!!!, et cetera) is a time-sucking vortex, and the void remaining where my time once was is now filled with books and learning and producing papers in a flurry of caffeine and confusion. Whereas my Friday nights of yesteryear used to at least vaguely resemble raging parties (raging, one-lady parties with Prince records and bloody marys and nail painting), they now look like this:
It’s pretty bleak.
But I have to bring the party somewhere. You can’t just hold party in. It’s bad for your kidneys.
So this Friday evening, I brought the party to my wok and deep-fried hearts of palm in pure love (in stores it’s sometimes packaged as “canola oil”).
It was like Woodstock, but with more calories and more people you probably wouldn’t mind seeing naked (um, nevermind).
Since this post is being written in posteriority, the recipe that follows is an Unsolved-Mysteries-esque dramatization of true events.
Step 1: Clutter your counter with ingredients. You will need:
Step 2: Turn your stove to medium/medium-high heat and add an inch of oil.
Step 3: Whisk together some soymilk (or, you know, whatever unsweetened nondairy beverage you have) and flax meal*. I haven’t a clue what the proportions are, except that it’s more milk than flax, but just do it (a ½ cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of flax meal ought to work). Whisk with conviction; you’ll want it to thicken a bit, as this will function as an egg wash.
Step 4: Make like Henry Ford (minus that whole “being profoundly racist” thing) and create an assembly line. First, you’re going to log-roll the heart of palm in a thin coat of cornstarch. Tap off any excess. Second, you’re going to dip it in your flax/soymilk wash. Finally, you’re going to roll it around in crunchy, wondrous panko—and then you’re going to deep fry it.**
Step 5: Gently drop your battered heart of palm into your wok and then repeat with those remaining. I wouldn’t fry any more than four at a time for the sake of quality control. After they have been saturated in hot oil (mmm) for a couple minutes, flip with a pair of tongs. When they’re uniformly golden brown, transfer to a plate with a napkin on top to drain.
Step 6: Nomnomnom. I served these like I would mozzarella sticks–with vegan ranch and marinara (duh). But I bet aioli, or a sriracha mayo, or really anything else that is normally paired with fried things would be a good bet.
* It has recently been brought to my attention that Bob’s Red Mill is evil/not a friend to our adorably furry counterparts (I mean, not furries. Well. Maybe them, too?). I didn’t realize this when I purchased these products, but I hereby dis-endorse them. Now moving on.
** You don’t know how to deep fry things? What are you, a health food enthusiast (a communist)? I don’t trust you.
To ensure that your oil is the proper temperature, dip the handle of a wooden spoon into it. If bubbles form around it slowly and lazily rise to the surface, raise the temperature or give it an extra minute or two to heat up. If they’re frenetically forming and bouncing off of your handle, then your wooden spoon is beginning to fry. Resist the urge to eat it, and turn the heat down. When bubbles form and rise to the surface of the oil at a brisk but comfortable pace, you’re golden (and soon those beautiful hearts of palm will be, too!)