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Fried Sage Leaves in Beer Batter

Recipe: Recipe excerpted with permission from Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark, published by Hardie Grant Books, April 2020

Photo: Matt Russell

A simple and delicious summertime snack.

Recipes can sometimes seem too straightforward to write out and bind in a cookbook. Such was the case for this dish of fried sage leaves that British-born chef Letitia Clark thought so simple, she wondered whether to even include it in her first cookbook, Bitter Honey, full of lessons and foods learned in her new home on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. “But,” she concluded, “it has to be here, as proof that simple is often best.” Gingerly coating fresh sage leaves in a batter lent levity by cold beer makes for a salty, herby summer drinking snack that certainly proves the old adage right.

Ingredients

Yield:Serves 6
  • 30 or so sage leaves
  • 1¾ cups (13½ fluid oz./400 ml.) mild olive, grapeseed, or sunflower oil, for frying
  • ⅔ cup (2¾ oz./80 g.) 00 flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
  • ½ cup (3¾ fluid oz./110 ml.) light, ice-cold beer, like a lager
  • Sea salt

    Preparation

    Select the sage leaves, picking the best, most even-sized, arrow-shaped leaves with a little length of stalk attached for holding onto. Wash them well in cold water and then pat dry.

    Add the flour to a large bowl, then make a well in the center of the flour. Slowly pour the beer into the well, whisking gently to combine. Continue whisking until a smooth batter is formed, but don’t be too vigorous, as you’ll beat out all the bubbles. Add a good pinch of salt to the batter and stir once more to combine.

    In a saucepan or deep fryer, add the oil and use a thermometer to heat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Working one at a time, dip each leaf in the batter and swirl until evenly coated, shaking off any excess batter. Working in batches, lower the battered leaves into the oil and fry until golden, flipping to make sure they achieve an even color on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Eat immediately, preferably with a glass of cold beer.

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