Sunday, October 28, 2012

People's Kitchen-Vegan-deep frying

We found an interesting place in Nottingham that's kind of a throw-back: the People's Kitchen in the Sumac Center in Forest Fields, has a community dinner every Saturday night, run by a group of young volunteers who do the menu planning and cooking for only £3.50 suggested donation.

Brian predicted the place would be really funky, and it was: the couches looked they were gotten off the street.  There were numerous posters about leftist and progressive events, the music was Bob Marley and Brian felt like he was back in the 80s in New York City and the anarchist-radical places he used to go to then.  Myself, I felt like I was sent back to the Chinese Cultural Revolution (which my parents experienced) in which there were large canteens for people's communal dinners. One difference: the canteen was free.

The People's Kitchen is a vegan club: that night's menu was; Thai curry(there was some soy protein-like ingredient I couldn't identify)/cabbage slaw/rice/eggplant tempura (more on this see below).   In my humble opinion, the dishes needed more flavor but at just £ 3.5 I can't be too picky.  Plus, the people were nice and we met an interesting woman who is a professor of philosophy at Nottingham University.  She lives nearby and comes because she likes the food and the people.  A bonus for Brian was that they had a bar which served cask ales for only £2.10.  I signed up to do the cooking on Nov 24th, so maybe I can spice up the recipe a little bit.

The focus of this post is tempura.  Tempura is quite popular, just like this funny article said: deep-frying-is-where-the-magic-happens  When I was kids we only made deep-fried food occasionally because we couldn't afford the oil. I remember my grandpa used say even deep-fried mud tasted good.  In fact frying is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC.  Nowadays people still love deep frying food, almost every cuisine has it.  In Louisiana the Creole cooking deep fries almost everything (I don't think they've deep fried mud yet).  The Italians make some of the best deep-fry. Here is one of my favorite way to eat artichokes

Deep-fried Artichokes 
Adapted from Italian: the beautiful cook book
Serve 6


  • 6 large fresh artichokes
  • Oil
  • 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper


Clean the artichokes, removing the tough outer leaves and trimming the stalks. As each one is prepared, immerse it in a cold water with lemon juice. Drain the artichokes and dry them well. Tap them on a work surface so that the leaves open slightly, pull the leaves back.   Season the inside of the artichokes with salt and pepper.

Heat oil to 150 C.   Plunge the artichokes upside down into the oil. Pressing each artichoke lightly with a pair of tongs, allow them to simmer in the oil, gently stiring, for about 10 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Remove the artichokes from the pan and place them stem up on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Transfer to a platter and serve them very hot with lemon quarters. 

I'll be the chef on 24th Nov. if you are in Notts please come to The People's Kitchen, 245 Gladstone Street.  

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