It’s crispy in the outside and melt-in-your mouth creamy in the inside. That is how deep-fried artichokes should taste. The Roman Jewish recipe has perfected it.
Fried Artichokes: Yummy History
The Jews lived a hard, confined life between the 16th to the 19th centuries, staying in the ghetto in Rome. Meat was hard to come by so their diets were mostly fruits, vegetables and some fish. In the midst of this history, the carciofi alla giudia was created. These are the deep-fried artichokes that have become strongly associated with Roman Jews.
The Right Artichokes
Not all artichokes are created equal; some are more favored than others especially when preparing fried artichokes. Here is a list of preferred ones, in preferential order:
- This variety is widely-used in Rome. It does not have thorns and no hairy central choke. You can easily trim it, and cook it.
- Baby artichokes. They are small enough not to have the choke so they are also easy to clean and cook.
- Full-size artichokes. The choke has to be removed to avoid choking.
Preparing the Artichokes
These steps have to be done before the cooking:
- Remove the outer leaves until you see the lighter-colored leaves;
- Remove the top portions of the light-colored leaves;
- Trim the stem. You may use either a peeler or a paring knife;
- If you are using full-size artichokes, it is best to half them lengthwise.
Cooking the Artichokes
- It is best to use extra-virgin olive oil to fry the artichokes since it gives it a strong flavor;
- Heat up the oil in 280 degrees Fahrenheit. We don’t want it too hot that it will easily burn the outer portion but not the inside;
- It is best to have the artichokes submerged in oil, but for the bigger ones, you may have to turn it to evenly cook all the sides;
- Fry the artichokes in low temperature oil until it is tender, approximately 10 minutes for baby artichokes, and 15 for bigger ones;
- You know it is done with the first phase when the artichokes are tender enough to be pierced with fork;
- Remove the choke from the insides of the artichoke after the first phase cooking. It would be easier to do since the artichokes are tender by then;
- To do this, put the hot artichokes on a paper towel to remove oil and to cool them;
- Removing the choke: pry open the leaves to resemble a blooming flower. You will find in the middle portion the hairy choke. Remove it using a spoon;
- Heat the extra-virgin olive oil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit;
- Fry the ‘bloomed’ artichokes in higher temperature to get it crispy. It should take about a minute or two;
- Remove and put on the paper towel to let the oil drip;
- Transfer to a bowl and flavor with salt while it’s still hot. Serve with lemon wedges.
This is a great appetizer, while some like to have it as snacks.