Battered sun-dried tomatoes (Liastes domates sto kourkouti)
Susan from Athens: comment to “Flat Tyre” on October 1, 2008
This is actually a traditional delicacy on the island of Tinos, where they traditionally sun dry their tomatoes (some of the best I’ve ever eaten), in order to preserve them for the winter months. This is a warming hors d’oeuvre or snack, or can be turned into the gluttonish main part of a meal. The quantities are deliberately vague and can be added and subtracted to, at will. Greek batter for frying in is simply a paste made of flour and water so this is unbelievably simple
sun-dried tomatoes (as many as you think you will eat)
enough boiling water to cover them
water to mix it to a paste
Olive oil (it doesn’t need to be extra-virgin or super-fancy) for frying
Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to steep for half an hour. When about 25 minutes have passed, in another shallow bowl, mix half a cup of flour with enough water (added slowly) to make a not-too-thick but not-too-runny paste. This sounds vague but you basically need it to be sticky enough to coat the tomatoes on all side, but still runny enough that it can coat, so a consistently thicker than pancake batter but a lot wetter than a sticky dough.
Put about a half centimetre of oil in a frying pan and heat over a medium heat. As with all frying, you want it hot, but you don’t want it burning. Only experience and experimentation teach you the exact way to do this. If it is smoking it is too hot and you should take it off the heat.
Strain the tomatoes. You don’t have to get them super-dry. I keep the liquid for adding to tomato soup or to a stew, much as I would soaking liquid from dried mushrooms. Place up to ten tomatoes at a time in the bowl and turn them round a few times to coat with batter. I find my fingers are the best way to do this. After all batter does wash off. Then place them individually into the frying pan with some distance between them, as the batter will very slightly swell up. Ten is the maximum number because by the time you have put ten in, washed your hands and got your turning implement of choice (slotted spoon and fork, or tongs or fish slice or whatever you prefer) it is time to turn them over. Check to see if they have changed colour to golden and turn in the same order you put them into the frying pan. If you think they might need some more, turn once more after a reasonable amount of time. Once done (i.e. golden all over and not burnt) remove from the frying pan and place onto a draining plate covered with frying paper.
In my household these very rarely actually make it to table. They are eaten (with burned fingers and mouths) on the fly. But they are also very good if served with skordalia (Greek aioli like sauce, a recipe for which I have already given) or tzatziki (garlic mushed up with grated cucumber and strained yoghurt). If you want to get fancier (and you should) you can add salt and pepper to the batter. If you want to get even fancier, Hungarian smoked sweet paprika makes a fabulous addition. You can also sprinkle them with oregano, or freshly chopped parsley or mint when finished. But they are great in and of themselves. Not a diet food but most definitely a comfort food.