Fried mozzarella and bread skewers (V)
Yotam Ottolenghi’s fried mozzarella and bread skewers: 'Don't be put off by the fat content, because if ever a dish was worth dying for, trust me, this is it.' Photograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian
I had this calorie bomb at Delfina, an institution in San Francisco's trendy Mission District, though they don't serve it with a salad. Don't be put off by the fat content, because if ever a dish was worth dying for, trust me, this is it. It's everything you could wish for of fried food: crisp, gooey and outrageously tasty. The odd cube of cheese may fall off in the frying, but just spear them back on before you take it to the table. Serves four as a first course.
250g buffalo mozzarella, cut into 3cm squarish pieces – 16 pieces in all
30g plain flour
1 egg, lightly whisked
100g fresh breadcrumbs mixed with a pinch of salt
120g crustless sourdough bread, cut into 3cm squares
50g clarified butter or ghee
3 tbsp olive oil
7 large sage leaves
¼ tsp crushed red chilli flakes
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
For the salad
300g cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ red onion, peeled and finely diced
1½ tsp red-wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
Mix all the salad ingredients with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a grind of pepper. Stir gently and set aside.
Dust the mozzarella pieces in flour, shake off any excess, dip them in the egg, then toss in breadcrumbs until well coated. Spear a piece of bread on a long metal or wooden skewer, follow with two pieces of cheese and then a second piece of bread, so the cheese is tightly sandwiched between the bread.
In a large frying pan, heat 30g of butter, two tablespoons of oil, five sage leaves and the chilli flakes. Fry half the skewers over a medium heat for two to three minutes on one side, turn and cook for a minute or two on each of the other three sides, basting them with hot fat as they cook and turn golden-brown on all sides (if your pan is big enough, you may be able to cook all the skewers in one go). Carefully remove the skewers from the pan, place on a plate lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt.
Repeat with the remaining skewers, butter, oil and sage. Serve hot with the salad on the side