Fried Mozzarella Sticks
This is my photograph, this is the fruit of my labor, and that sauce bowl was made by yours truly (which I spun on a potter's wheel and laid the glaze); but, this recipe is not mine. This recipe was taken from Ree Drummond, which can be found here. On a more insignificant note, the glaze on the plate is mine, too; but the plate is not my making.
I was pretty nervous about trying to make this; I've never deep fried anything. But, for some reason, mozzarella sticks have been sticking to my brain and I knew this would be something my husband would love eating. So, here went nothing. . .
Ree's recipe calls for Panko. What's that? I had no idea whatsoever. Just thought breadcrumbs were breadcrumbs. Turns out panko is the Japanese term for "bread crumbs." But, unlike other breadcrumbs found on store shelves, these tend to be lighter, crispier, and crunchier; because these are taken from the inside part of the bread, rather than the outside.
Including the dipping sauce, I used 9 ingredients total:
1. Six mozzarella sticks.
3. Panko Bread Crumbs.
4. Dried parsley flakes.
5. A bit of milk.
6. 2 eggs.
7. Olive oil - Ree used canola oil. No one could tell I used olive oil.
9. Marinara Sauce - I love Barilla's sauces.
Truth be told, I didn't see Ree's printable recipe, where specific and measurable amounts were disclosed (see it here) until just now, as I was/am writing this blog post; so I conjectured amounts.
The process, the abridged version, is as follows:
These are the three bowls I prepared for dipping the mozzarella sticks. The far left is flour. The middle includes 2 beaten eggs and some milk. The far right is panko, mixed with a bit of salt and dried parsley flakes. Dip starting from the left bowl, then in the middle bowl, and finally into the right bowl.
Cut the mozzarella sticks in half.
This is what my mozzarella sticks looked like after I followed the aforementioned dipping process, before cooking.
Ree's suggestion of flash freezing the mozzarella sticks for 20-30 minutes before frying them was very important; I'll tell you why in a bit.
After about 25 minutes, I was ready to begin deep frying the mozzarella sticks. I filled a sauce pan with about an inch of olive oil and turned the heat on medium to high - about 6.5 (I have an electric stove with numbers on the dial). I dropped pieces of panko in to test and see whether the oil was hot enough to start the cooking process. Once the bits on panko started sizzling immediately upon impact with the oil, I carefully placed (using chopsticks; I don't have any tongs) six mozzarella sticks in at a time. I let it cook for about 3-4 minutes before flipping them over. The basic idea is to brown each side. Careful not to let the cheese get runny or too melted.
Ree's suggestion of placing them on a paper towel lined plate was also keen. Then I repeated the process until all the cheese sticks were cooked.
I poured the marinara sauce into a bowl, before I started cooking the mozzarella sticks; so we could eat the cheese sticks soon after I finished cooking.
I still had panko (mixed with parsley flakes and salt), along with the egg (mixed with milk), left over. I didn't want to waste either. So, I dipped half a dozen raw shrimps into the egg mixture followed by the panko mixture and proceeded to deep fry the shrimp ever briefly (a few seconds). Take a look at the photograph and you will see why flash freezing is a necessary step in getting the panko to stick to the subject in question.
Still tasty nonetheless. I took what was remaining of the egg mixture, stir fried it, and my husband ate it.
The finished product was so tasty, there wasn't enough to go around. I ate 2. My 2 year old and 3 year old chomped them down quickly. I have no idea how many my husband ate; but he didn't have his lion's share, because he saw how much the girls loved them and wanted to give them the chance to enjoy the treat, too.