Fried Zucchini with Panko Crust

March 3, 2008 § 4 Comments

This past Saturday was new recipe experiment day. The in-laws were over for cocktails and to try a new recipe, fried zucchini in panko crust. As a starter to keep them tied over until the zucchinis were done (gotta keep those eating machines well fed), I made some chopped liver earlier in the day. I mentioned chopped liver in a previous post here. I’ll add the recipe in an upcoming post. Onto the fried zucchini.

I searched for a recipe that used panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) since I liked the idea. I opted for Giada’s panko recipe because it just sounded good. You can find panko in most grocery stores. Here’s the recipe.

Canola oil, for frying (you can also use peanut oil, olive oil, or shortening)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups panko
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 medium zucchini, cut into 3-inch long by 1/2-inch wide strips

In a large frying pan, use enough oil to come up about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. I used an electric wok rather than a frying pan since it allows me to set to exact temperatures (350 degrees Fahrenheit). I double checked the temperature using my digital temp gauge since I’ve never really callibrated the electric wok. Who would have thunk I would use the Mister’s electric wok for so many things? More on that later.

Prepping the work area:
For dredging, I had a 3-bowl set-up: 1 for corn starch, 1 for eggs, 1 for panko mix.

I also had an area set up for the zucchinis to rest after dredging. This consisted of a cookie sheet fitted with a cooling rack. The resting will help the zucchini to set the crust. None of the recipes called for this but resting is a step for good fried chicken so I thought, why not?

Combine panko, Parmesean, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.
Whisk eggs in a medium bowl.
Working in batches, dredge in the following order:

  • Coat the zucchinis with corn starch, making sure to shake off the excess.
  • Dip the zucchini in the eggs, coat completely and letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl.
  • Coat the zucchini in the panko mixture. I patted on the panko mixture to help it really adhere to the zucchini (which it’s important to make sure the zucchini is completely covered with egg). It’s all about the crust!
  • Place the zucchini strips on the rack and repeat until all of the zucchinis are coated. If you don’t have a rack, place them on a baking sheet.

Once the oil reaches 350 degrees F, again working in batches, slowly put the zucchinis into the oil. It’s important not to put too much in at one time to prevent the oil temperature from dropping drastically. (I put the zucchini on a Chinese spider and slip it in gently.) You can also use a slotted spoon.) Gently move the zucchinis around to prevent sticking to each other. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Make sure you turn them a couple of times while cooking to get even browning. Use a slotted spoon or a Chinese spider to transfer the fried zucchini onto paper towels to drain. Be careful, they will be very hot so avoid the temptation to sneak a taste until after they’ve cooled down a bit.

Serve with blue cheese or Ranch dressing. I served it with both but most of the family likes blue cheese over Ranch.

Results? The panko crust turned out perfect and the zucchini was just soften, not mushy. It got all thumbs up and this one is a keeper. The only adjustment I will make the next time is adding a little bit more salt, probably a full teaspoon. I might try frying in shortening (like Crisco) also to see if it helps to reduce the “fry” smell in the house.

So a side note about the electric wok. This was one of the very first fancy “cookware” that the Mister had purchased as a young bachelor years ago. It’s the only cookware we still have of his from those days. I actually made fun of it the first time I saw it since the thought of an electric wok seemed so…odd (okay, I admit, it seemed white bread). Well, egg in my face when I first came up with the idea to use it for Chinese hot pot, and now, a deep fryer. Who would have thought his wok would turn into such an essential cooking tool now for me. And to think I married him for the dental plan…well, okay, maybe for a few more reasons.

Have a wonderful week. Now go and eat well.


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