My Recipe Box

Fried Capers, an addictive garnish

by Dabney Gough

fromFine Cooking
Issue 90

Capers, the pickled or salted flower buds of a Mediterranean bush, are normally rinsed or soaked and then added to dishes like salsa verde or puttanesca sauce, where they lend a briny edge. But fry capers in a little olive oil, and something magical happens: They open up like a flower and the “petals” become crisp and golden. In this form, they’re an elegant garnish for salads, roasted fish, or grilled meats—and they’re addictive little nibbles on their own, too. Leftover frying oil will be infused with caper flavor and may be drizzled on meats, fish, or vegetables.

Fried capers are quick to prepare. Here's how:

1. If using brined capers, drain them and pat dry with a paper towel. If using salted capers, soak in water for 30 minutes and then drain and pat dry.

2. Heat 1/8 inch (about 1/4 cup) of olive or vegetable oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the capers 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time—they’ll give off some liquid at first, so watch out for spattering oil. Fry, swirling the pan gently, until just golden brown, about 45 seconds for small (nonpareil) capers or 90 seconds for large (capote) capers.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Blot gently to absorb excess oil. Cool briefly before using.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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