In Italy, when the first young artichokes appear in the markets you start to hope that winter is getting to an end.
An artichoke is a flower bud. A fresh artichoke is bright and unblemished, leaves are tightly packed. If the flower starts to open the artichoke will be full of choke and the leaves will be stringy, tough and virtually inedible.
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 4 young artichokes
- oil for deep frying like sunflower oil
- 2/3 cup rice flour (you can use wheat flour but the results will be less crispy)
Cleaning artichokes requires a little practice but it is easier with the young and tender flowers which, by the way, can be eaten raw as a salad ingredient.
To clean artichokes first pull off the lower petals until only the pale tender ones remain. Then peel and shorten the stems leaving about 5 cm (2 inches). Using a sharp knife, cut off at least 1 cm (1/2 inch) of the top of the the artichoke and trim the sides in a conical shape to remove all the dark green fibrous parts.
Cut artichoke lengthwise into 8 wedges and remove the fuzzy choke and some more fibrous tips using a small pairing knife. Make sure to work quickly otherwise the artichokes will darken.
Prepare a bowl of acidulated water with the lemon juice. As soon as the artichoke wedges are ready, transfer them into the bowl to preserve color.
Drain artichokes with a colander and pat dry. In a resealable plastic bag mix the flour and artichokes and shake to coat all of the wedges. Remove from the bag, shake off excess flour and deep fry in plenty hot oil until pale golden.
Drain well on paper towels and season with salt. Serve immediately as part of a mixed appetizer for 4.