These carrot and mint fritters make for a delightfully colorful, fragrant appetizer that’s so light and crisp they may just vanish into thin air (or into everyone’s stomachs). Although the fritters are crisp, the carrots are tender, sweet and earthy, and complemented by the fresh flavor of the mint and warm spices of the ras el hanout and salt sprinkled on top.
Ras el hanout is a North African blend of spices, whose name literally means “head of the shop” in Arabic, implying that the best spices in the shop go into making it. As you might guess the blend varies from brand to brand, but I usually make mine with cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cardamom, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cloves and white pepper, and it goes beautifully with the mint and carrots.
The trick to getting a light crispy fritter is in both the amount of batter you use, and how it’s mixed. Ideally, you want just enough batter to lightly coat each piece of carrot and mint, without there being so much that the batter forms pools. I found a great way of achieving this while working on a Japanese kakiage recipe, and it’s now how I make all of my fritters.
By first coating the carrots and mint in flour, and then adding just enough cold club soda, it allows you to make a batter that’s already evenly distributed amongst the carrots, so you can avoid over mixing it. For the liquid, cold club soda works the best because the bubbles add air to the batter, while the temperature limits the formation of gluten, which can make the fritters crunchy rather than crispy.
Crispy Carrot and Mint Fritters
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- 10 ounces (280 grams, or about 2 medium) carrots
- .5 ounces (13 grams) mint leaves
- 2.1 ounces (60 grams) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons club soda
- In a small bowl, combine the ras el hanout and salt.
- Heat a pot with 1-inch of vegetable oil to 340 degrees F (170 C). Prepare a wire rack lined with a few sheets of paper towels.
- Peel and julienne the carrots and add them to a bowl with the mint leaves and all-purpose flour.
- Toss to coat everything with flour.
- Add the cold club soda and stir until just combined (it's okay if there are some small clumps of flour remaining).
- When the oil has reached the target temperature, place a mound of carrots on a spatula (the type used for flipping pancakes), and then lower the spatula into the oil, using another spatula to gently scrape the mound off of the first spatula. It's important to add each fritter to the oil in one piece, otherwise your fritter will disintegrate while frying.
- Repeat to make additional fritters, but don't overcrowd the pot.
- Fry until the fritters are crisped on one side, and the flip and fry until they have crisped on the other side.
- Transfer the fritters to the prepared rack and then dust with the ras el hanout salt.
Yield: 6 fritters
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marcs been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.