Mekong Delta Kitchen: Crispy Pumpkin Flowers with Watermelon Wasabi

Mekong Delta Kitchen: Crispy Pumpkin Flowers with Watermelon Wasabi
Crispy pumpkin flowers are amazing for the sweetness of the pumpkin, the crunchiness of the tempura, and the spicy kick from the watermelon wasabi dipping sauce. As an added benefit, they’re quite beautiful, adding a pop of color in the otherwise sea of green in Vietnamese markets.
Pumpkin flowers are rather versatile in Vietnamese cuisine. They can be used in soups with a simple broth, or sauteed with meat, or stuffed and deep fried.
For our version, we’re going strictly vegetarian!
We’ll start with selecting the pumpkin flowers. Wash them and pat dry.
Dredge them in a fine coating of flour to retain the moisture of the flowers when frying.
For our recipe, we’re also adding slices of pumpkin and a Vietnamese herb called rau ram, also known in English as Vietnamese coriander,  Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, hot mint, laksa leaf and praew leaf. They’re spicy and pleasingly pungent to the taste!
Next comes the batter. You can make your own tempura-style batter with flour, ice water, egg (use only the whites for a crispier dish), salt, pepper and a pinch of yeast.
Carefully dip your vegetables into the batter.
And release them into a deep fryer until golden brown, approximately three minutes.
Leave on a napkin to drain the oil.
In the meantime, make a dipping sauce of watermelon puree and a touch of wasabi for heat. Alternatively, a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, lime, sugar, water and garlic can be used, commonly called nuoc cham in Vietnamese. Serve hot as a delicious appetizer!
The Vietnamese version of crispy pumpkin flowers can also be stuffed with a meat filling, either minced shrimp or pork or a paste of finely ground fish with shallots and chive flowers.