You know when you go a restaurant and the food seems simple and straight forward and yet it tastes so much better than you expected it ever could? Out in San Francisco Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern and El Paseo restaurants serve up these epiphanies plate after plate, night after night.
Having access to the best meats, freshest vegetables and fine butters and oils and herbs and spices is part of this alchemy — but hardly a secret. The transformative process likely involves some little just-so technique or truc that’s a no-brainer for the pros. Luckily, unlike closed-mouthed stage magicians, wizards of the kitchen are generous with recipes and instructions and experiences and advice.
Tyler stopped by the House Beautiful offices recently to talk about his upcoming book Fresh. While trying my best to uphold my part in the conversation I memorized as many recipes and ideas as possible.
The exploded balls of color urgently begged two questions: What were they and how do you make them?
Tyler explained that chez Florence cherry tomatoes make a pit stop in the fryer on the race from garden to plate. The 10 – 15 second submersion in hot oil bursts their skins and softens just a little bit of the pulp, rendering them tender and juicy, pretty to look at and oh so delicious to eat.
I did my best to replicate the photo in the galleys of Fresh; the picture with Tyler was taken at our Kitchen of the Year 2011. Shameless self promotion, yes, but nothing new about that.
Cherry tomatoes – multi-colored is best and a variety of shapes is even better. Bonus points if the stems are still attached.
Oil for frying
Make sure the tomatoes are thoroughly dry.
In a pan heat enough oil to submerge the tomatoes to frying temperature, 325° – 325°.
Use a slotted spoon or small wire mesh frying basket to slip the tomatoes into the hot oil.
PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST SPLATTERS: Although not as explosive as popcorn, the tomatoes can throw a shower of boiling oil which can be unpleasant. I armed myself with a splatter shield. Long sleeves and glasses should also keep you from harm. It’s actually pretty tame but still, you’ve been warned.
After 10 – 15 seconds the tomatoes will burst their skins. Lift them from the oil, careful to keep the skins just barely attached. Drain on a paper towel and serve while still warmPrint This Post