Deep-Fried Basil Salad

July  9, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe was inspired by a marvel of a salad served at Sriphiphai Thai Restaurant in New York. It features deep-fried watercress which sounds like an impossibility, but winds up as revelation. Part of the revelation for me was that I could deep-fry all kinds of fragrant, green herbs and come up with startling and delightful flavor combinations. Basil is a perfect candidate for this treatment, its flavors intensified by the quick hot dip in oil. The shrimp is optional, but does make this dish a more substantial main course serving. —vrunka

What You'll Need
  • Salad ingredients
  • 2 cups basil leaves (preferably Thai basil, but Italian will do)
  • 2/3 cup tempura flour
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • 2-3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (cleaned and split in half)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, shredded
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • Dressing ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3-5 Thai hot chilies, sliced thin
  1. Wash and dry the basil leaves. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, slowly add the water to the tempura flour, whisking to combine well.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Working quickly, dip each basil leaf into the tempura batter then drop in the oil. Do about 10 leaves at a time. Pull out the leaves when they are crisp and slightly brown, about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining leaves.
  4. Drain off the oil in the skillet and wipe it out. Heat the skillet to medium high and toss the shrimp in the pan, sautéing for about 5 minutes or until pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.
  5. Toss together the shrimp, apple and cashews and place on serving platter.
  6. Combine all ingredients for the dressing, making sure the sugar completely dissolves. Pour over the shrimp mixture and toss to combine.
  7. Top with fried basil leaves and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • dymnyno
  • vrunka
  • firenze
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.

4 Reviews

firenze July 10, 2010
Oh! I've had that salad at Siphriphai and it's soooo good. And your version sounds even better!
vrunka July 10, 2010
Thanks! Sriphiphai is a tough act to follow. This is pretty different from theirs, but I hope you still like it!
dymnyno July 10, 2010
Everything about this sounds soo unique and something I should try....sooon! Isn't the fish sauce overpowering? I want to see pics!
vrunka July 10, 2010
I like fish sauce and use it in a lot of dishes, so I tend to use more of it than other might. Feel free to dial it back or replace it with half as much soy sauce if you prefer.