macadamia crusted mushrooms with paprika salt and chipotle mayo


I'm trying my hand at writing first thing in the morning (well actually, as soon as I've had a coffee.  Don't be insane).  They say that we are at our peak creativity as soon as we wake up - something to do with cavemen and how they recorded their dreams on cave walls so that they wouldn't forget them.  I am going to spare you a rather graphic account of my dreams (a side effect of watching Game of Thrones as you drift off to sleep) and talk about food instead, you know, just for something a bit different ;-)

Last night was veggie night in our house, which I commit to once a week, much to the dismay of THBBF.  I am usually met with moans and groans when I announce that it's veggie night, so instead of planning it for the same night each week I keep it random, kind of like a vegetarian Russian roulette.  

Crumbed, deep-fried mushrooms bring back many memories of my childhood - parties my parents threw at our house, Pink Floyd playing in the background (yes, I had an awesome childhood).  I don't know many people who don't like mushrooms, and there sure as hell isn't a person on this planet who doesn't like deep fried food (plenty who won't admit to it though - it's OK, you enjoy your oven-baked kale chips, more mushies for us).  I've taken this retro classic and given it a modern spin with macadamia and paprika flavours that work harmoniously together.

macadamia crusted mushrooms with paprika salt and chipotle mayo
Serves 4-6 as a snack

400g button mushrooms (bebe ones - the teensier the better)
60g plain flour
1 tsp smoked paprika (plus 1/2 tsp extra)
1 egg, whisked with a splash of milk
75g dried breadcrumbs
75g raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
1/2 tbsp sea salt flakes
Freshly cracked black pepper

1 egg yolk
250ml vegetable oil
2 tsp white vinegar
1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1 tsp adobo extra

Preheat a deep-fryer to the highest setting.

To make chipotle mayo, add yolk to a large bowl.  Whisk until creamy.  Very, very slowly add half the oil, pouring in a very thin stream and constantly whisking at the same time.  If you dump all the oil in at once it won't create an emulsion (fancy cooking words - are you impressed?) and the yolk and oil will just go chunky.  Gross.

Once you have added half the oil, whisk through one teaspoon of vinegar.  This will loosen the mayo a bit and lighten the colour to something that more closely resembles what you would buy in the supermarket.  Continue to add the remaining of the oil, in a thin stream and constantly whisking, until it is all incorporated.  If needed, whisk through the remaining vinegar at the end.  Add the chilli and adobo and stir through.  Set aside.

Place flour and paprika into a large, plastic zip-lock bag.  Add mushrooms, seal bag (be careful to seal properly as failure to do so will result in your house looking like Lindsay Lohan and friends had hosted a cocaine-fuelled party in your kitchen).  Shake gently to coat mushrooms, then remove and shake lightly to remove any excess flour.  Set mushrooms aside, discard flour.

To make the macadamia crumb, first process the macadamia nuts in a small food processor.  You will notice that it is difficult to get them down to a fine crumb, so we are going to add the breadcrumbs to aid in helping the mixture break down further.  Add the breadcrumbs and process for a further 1-2 mins or until the mixture resembles a fine breadcrumb.  Pour into a large, plastic zip-lock bag.

Dip mushrooms into egg mixture to coat then, three at a time, add to the breadcrumb bag, seal, then shake to coat.  Remove mushies from breadcrumb bag, then repeat with remaining.

Deep fry mushrooms, 10 at a time, 2-3 mins or until golden.  You may need to give your deep-fryer basket a little shake as they cook, to ensure they are evenly cooked (they tend to float to the top and cook on one side only).  Drain on paper towel.  

Combine sea salt flakes, pepper and extra paprika in a small bowl.  Crush with the back of a spoon to break up the salt, but not too fine, you want a rustic kind of look.  Sprinkle over mushrooms before serving with chipotle mayo.