Fried Cheese Curds (Gluten-free)
You probably don’t want to know this, but it’s seriously easy to make fried cheese curds at home. In fact, in the time you spend in line at the Minnesota State Fair, sweating your brains out while standing on a smushed-curd covered floor, you could have whipped up a batch at home and EATEN it. Kablam!
So in case you couldn’t hack the line, or your kids got too cranky before the cheese-curd portion of the day, I offer this fast tempura version for your kitchen. A combination of rice flour and corn starch yields a shatteringly crisp exterior (that just happens to be naturally gluten-free).
Assuage fried-food guilt by dipping a few sliced vegetables in the batter too. I had fried mushrooms for breakfast just this morning, in fact, as a quick test to make sure that I could recommend the batter for vegetables…all good. I suspect strips of bell pepper, zucchini, onions (of course), dill pickles, or asparagus would all work beautifully. I guarantee that little balls of leftover risotto and mashed potatoes are crispy-gooey fabulous. (Breakfast of champions for me today, oy…)
Fried Cheese Curds
Note: Choose your oil carefully. Do not fry in canola oil, which takes on an unpleasant fishy taste at high heat. Either peanut oil or safflower oil works well here. If you don’t use all the batter, save it! It can be chilled in the fridge for a couple of days. I used it cold with good result.
1 c. rice flour
1 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 c. club soda (perhaps more to adjust the batter)
1 lb. cold cheese curds
high heat peanut or safflower oil
In a medium bowl, whisk together rice flour, cornstarch, salt, cayenne, club soda, and egg until smooth. Let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk again before continuing.
In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot enough for batter to sizzle, add half the cheese curds to the batter and stir around. Fry cheese curds a few at a time until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Continue adding curds to the batter until all the curds are fried. Serve hot.