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Sage Advice

Sage plant

Sage a go-go in the backyard

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.

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Beer-battered Sage Leaves

Fried 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.

You’ll need:

  • 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.

The Steps:

  • 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.

The Variations:

  • You could, of course, put some additional flavouring into the batter – a little hit of chilli might work well.

The Results:

  • Enough beer-battered sage leaves for 10 or so people to nibble on.

22 Comments

  1. Mindy

    This is awesome! My sage plant is growing quickly, and all I could see was a huge amount of chicken saltimbocca in my future. (I love the dish, but not every day!) :-)

  2. Móna Wise

    Wow – what a lovely idea. I love sage (fresh only – hate the dried stuff) but we also have oodles of it and there is just not a huge call for it in our kitchen. I think it will make a very nice snack!

  3. Daily Spud

    Mindy: I know exactly what you mean! Much as I love sage there are relatively few dishes that I end up using it in.

    Móna: give them a whirl and see what you think – I’d still probably want to have them alongside other not-so-fried snacks (but I’d probably say that about anything fried in a lot of oil!)

  4. Kavey

    I. Must. Try. This.

    It looks heavenly!

  5. Daily Spud

    So, Kavey, I guess you heard that little voice saying ‘Eat me, eat me’ then? :D

  6. Stacey West-Feather

    Looks so good!

  7. Kat

    What a great way to use up a sage plant!

  8. Vanessa

    Fried sage is amazing.

  9. Daily Spud

    Stacey: a crispy batter can do wonders for so many things…

    Kat: my thoughts exactly!

    Vanessa: delighted you think so, I reckoned it was pretty good alright :)

  10. Sarah

    These look delicious – and so fatty! Gotta love fat!

  11. Daily Spud

    And sure we all need a little bit of fat in our lives Sarah!

  12. Kathryn

    I never had any idea that you could fry leaves! It makes sense, I guess, but it never would have crossed my mind! They look super yummy, though :)

  13. Daily Spud

    Hi Kathryn, I’ve fried the leaves without batter before (and done like that, they’re a great garnish for a creamy pasta sauce) but adding the batter was a new thing for me – glad to have another way of using the leaves up!

  14. Jenni

    Lovely! Tempura herbs:)Could do some along w/onion rings w/your yumm-o beer batter, ma’am!

  15. Daily Spud

    Ooh yes, onion rings in the beer batter, I like it Jenni! In fact, why not sage ‘n’ onion rings? Could be on to something there :)

  16. Lacey @ dishfolio.com

    Amazing recipe idea! We’d love for you to share with us at dishfolio.com!

  17. Daily Spud

    Thanks Lacey, will do!

  18. Lisa

    Genius! I’ll have to post a pic of my sage plant; it’s in a bucket because I know it’s trying to take over the world.

  19. Daily Spud

    Maybe there’s some secret sage plot, Lisa – just gotta get ’em covered in batter before we’re completely overrun :D

  20. kate

    i just made these and they are FANTASTIC! i also added a dash of onion and garlic powder and a pinch of paprika. thank you for the great idea!!

  21. Daily Spud

    Yay Kate! I’m so glad to hear that and love the sound of the additions you’ve made. Thanks so much for letting me know.

  22. OysterCulture

    Love this. I love frying sage and sprinkling it on top of just about everything. Beer battered would be spectacular and I love the beer batter sage onion ring idea.

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