These gorgeous deep-fried mushrooms have the most unbelievable texture and make a brilliant starter or, even better, a simple snack. In fact, they’re so delicious I end up eating them as soon as they come out of the pan, so not all of them make it to the table! You can use one type of mushroom – like I’ve done here with the field mushrooms – or a mixture. Tearing them up into different sizes will add a wonderful mixture of textures, colours and flavours.
Start by making your posh, flavoured vinegar. Put the whole sprigs of tarragon and thyme, the peppercorns and garlic slices into a bottle, then top with the vinegar, making sure it completely covers all the herbs and spices. Allow the vinegar to steep for at least a few hours and, remember, the longer you leave it, the more delicious it will become. You can let it infuse for a couple of weeks to really push up the flavour and, as long as you strain the vinegar after this time and bottle it up, you can keep using it for a good few months.
Fill a deep pan with the olive oil and let it heat up over a medium heat. Meanwhile, put the flour on a large plate with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and the lemon zest. Cut or tear the mushrooms into uneven chunks, and sprinkle them with a bit of water to moisten them. Toss handfuls of the mushrooms in the seasoned flour until they are all lightly coated.
To test if the oil is hot enough, add a small piece of potato to the pan. Once it begins to sizzle and brown, the oil is ready. Deep-fry the mushrooms in batches – about a handful at a time - until they’re golden brown. The cooking time will depend on the size of the mushrooms but it shouldn’t take more than 3 or 4 minutes – just use your instincts. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and leave on kitchen paper to drain for a minute. Serve as soon as possible sprinkled with a pinch of salt, some posh vinegar and some roughly chopped parsley. Delicious!