Ikaria-style crisped zucchini sticks are a healthy, addictive meze!

Crispy Ikaria Zucchini Sticks


These Ikaria-style zucchini sticks are whimsically called maridaki, the Greek word for smelts, because smelts, long and slim, are typically floured and fried just like these little sticks. They’re great. To find some of the artisinal Greek products you'll need to make this, visit my online shop here, where you'll discover a host of lovingly curated Greek ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound / 440 g summer zucchini trimmed
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour as needed
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons grated Greek kefalotyri cheese
  • 2 tsp. dried mint

Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the zucchini. Cut each one into sticks about 2 ½ inches / 6 cm long and ¼ inch / 75 mm wide. Layer in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Place a plate and a weight over the zucchini and let drain for at least an hour. Dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Heat 3 inches / 7 ½ cm of vegetable oil in a large, wide pot. Test for temperature by tossing a piece of bread into the pot. If it crisps up and turns golden within about 30 seconds, the oil is ready.
  3. Toss the zucchini in flour, shaking off the excess. Using a slotted spoon or spider, slip a small handful of zucchini into the hot oil and fry without moving around too much, until crisp and golden. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue with remaining zucchini sticks, clearing out any burnt clumps of flour that might accumulate in the hot oil.
  4. Once the zucchini are cooked, toss in a serving bowl with the grated cheese and mint. They are great with any of the kopanisti and/or skordalia recipes (pages 000).

Notes

It’s really hard to replicate the texture and flavor of Greek garden vegetables in the U.S. and elsewhere because farming techniques are different and so is the common attitude toward seasonal foods. In Greece, most people still tailor their diets to what really is in season. Summers are dry, sunny and hot, and vegetables are not over-watered. Greek zucchini, eaten almost always and only in the summer, is crisper, smaller, and more intensely flavored than what I typically find in an American supermarket. So, please, cook this in season, try to find zucchini from a farm that’s nearby, and tweak the frying time as needed if the zucchini is water-logge

Adapted from Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life & Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die

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