Deep fried strawberries?
Bud Chittom laid this one on me the other night when we ran into each other at a barbecue restaurant. He told me he helped create the deep fried strawberries at his new place, Johnny G’s Creole Kitchen on Beale Street. The restaurant, whose slogan is “Who’s Ya’ Crawdaddy?,” opened last week.
Chittom, Johnny G’s managing partner, told me about the strawberries on a Sunday. I was at the restaurant Monday. First off, I liked the neon sign — a whiskered catfish wearing a top hat and sunglasses.
Chittom told me he tried a deep fried strawberry at a Florida restaurant. “I didn’t like it,” he said.
So, he returned to Memphis to perfect it. It took a while, but he and Robert Kalafat and Billy Defee from Johnny G’s got it right. Too many cooks didn’t spoil the “broth.”
The difficult part was “to get the breading to seal, but not burn.” Chittom used panko, a Japanese flour, because he wanted a very finely-milled flour. “Nothing else would work,” he said, adding, “I wanted to see something totally cooked inside a shell.”
They deep fry the strawberry to turn it into jelly and juice. They want the consistency to be “like putting a knife in butter,” Defee said. They want the deep fried strawberries “to melt in your mouth.”
They drizzle chocolate over the strawberries, dust them with powdered sugar and serve them with whipped cream for $6.95 for a plate of six.
Chittom regards the deep fried strawberry as the perfect palette cleanser after eating Johnny G’s spicy Creole food.
Deep fried strawberries resemble hush puppies, but they sure don’t taste like them. The flour and fruit go together perfectly. Someone said the deep fried strawberries reminded him of a cobbler, but I don’t really get that taste. It’s something different.
They’re great as a dessert, but they also remind me of something I’d eat for breakfast in the French Quarter.
I brought some of the strawberries back to the office. Everybody liked them. One of my colleagues actually swooned after she took the first bite.
Johnny G’s Creole Kitchen is at 156 Beale; 528-1055.
Michael Donahue: 529-2797; email@example.com