So, what exactly does one do with an excess of sage?
I ponder this question, knowing that – lovely though it is – sage is not usually called for in anything other than fairly small amounts. As I look at my flourishing sage plant, however, it seems a shame not to be using its bounty of leaves in larger quantities.
So, as oft times before, I ask the internet what to do, and the answer returns, dipped deliciously in beer batter and fried. The future of my sage leaves is golden.
Beer-battered Sage Leaves
While I have fried plain sage leaves before, it had never occurred to me to dip them in batter first. Done this way, they make for a tasty nibble to be enjoyed along with a glass of beer or whatever-you’re-having-yourself.
The recipe I’ve used is adapted slightly from one I found here, which notes that you might find deep-fried sage leaves as part of an Italian fried platter or frittura mista.
The quantity of batter is enough to coat quite a large number of sage leaves which will, in turn, provide nibbles for a large group. Of course you can always make a smaller amount or use leftover batter to coat anything else you might like to deep fry.
- 100g plain flour
- 0.25 tsp salt
- small pinch of baking soda
- approx. 200ml pale ale
- plenty of olive oil for frying
- 1 egg white
- 60-80 large sage leaves, with stems if possible, washed and patted dry
You’ll also need:
- You can use a deep fat fryer if you have one, otherwise use a deep frying pan or wok for this.
- Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl, then add the beer and mix gently to a (fairly runny) batter, taking care to remove any lumps.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- When you’re ready to start frying, fill your pan with oil to a depth of about 2-3cm and place over a medium-high heat.
- While the oil is heating, add a pinch of salt to the egg white and whisk until stiff peaks form, then gently fold the egg white into the chilled batter.
- Check to see that the oil is hot enough to start frying: if you have a suitable thermometer, look for a temperature of about 180C, otherwise a drop of batter should sizzle immediately and brown quickly. If the oil is smoking, remove from the heat to let it cool a bit before proceeding.
- Now, working in small batches, dip the sage leaves into the batter and fry, turning once, until crisped up and golden, 1-2 minutes. Remove with a tongs or slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot, perhaps with the rest of that beer that you had to open for the batter.
- You could, of course, put some additional flavouring into the batter – a little hit of chilli might work well.
- Enough beer-battered sage leaves for 10 or so people to nibble on.