Follow this easy and straight-forward recipe for golden and crispy Fried Lambs’ Brains.
When the folks at Cathay Pacific asked me to cook, style and photograph fried lambs’ brains for an upcoming edition of Discovery, their in-flight magazine, I was somewhat nervous. And that was before they disclosed that the accompanying article would be written by Umberto Bombana, the head chef at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to hold 3 Michelin stars.
So not only had I agreed to cook something I had never cooked or eaten before, I had to prepare and style the dish based on something a 3 star Michelin chef considered to be his favourite dish. Sure! Easy peasy!
Before I accepted the assignment, I had to make some calls to ensure that I could source lambs’ brains in Zurich. The two main butchers in Zurich city quickly and bluntly declined my request to place a special order for lambs’ brains. Brains are very difficult, they both said, although they couldn’t explain in clear terms what the difficulty was.
My last and final option, which in hindsight should have been my first call, was the butcher I visit nearly every Friday at the farmers’ markets at Bürkliplatz. Perhaps it was my poor German which made him feel sorry for this foreigner who sounded quite desperate to buy a part of an animal which most Swiss would not want to see or eat (I asked for Lammgehirn when it is actually called Lammhirn). Or perhaps he was simply surprised to receive such an unusual order. But I was instantly relieved when he confirmed that he could provide me with some lambs’ brains, except that he could not guarantee how many because that depended on how many lambs would be slaughtered in the coming week. So not only was he the butcher, he was also the farmer.
There is much comfort in knowing the source of the meat which you are eating, as well as buying from farmers and butchers who take pride in their work and produce. And for farmers, in particular, it must be reassuring when the whole part of the animal can be used, that nothing goes to waste.
I can’t say that it was easy to handle the raw lambs’ brains, but I got on with the job and I am rather proud of the outcome. In my mind, I felt that it was no different to cooking any other part of the animal, so I pretended that I was cooking chicken nuggets.
And to be honest, the process of cooking lambs’ brains is not so different, except that you have to soak the brains first in a lot of water to extract the blood (sorry for the gory details but I have spared you the step-by-step photos!!), and then poach them in boiling water to cook the brains and make them firm enough to deep-fry. Once they have been poached, you simply dip them in beaten egg and coat them in flour, before immersing them in hot oil to become golden and crispy on the outside.
In his article, Chef Umberto Bombana writes about how his favourite fried lambs’ brains is served with Roman-Style Fried Artichokes. Of course, Cathay Pacific wanted me to include artichokes in the photo, and so this photo shoot was actually comprised on two entirely new dishes for me. Thankfully, the Roman-Style Fried Artichokes was relatively easy to prepare, and you can read about that recipe in my post here.
If you have tried eating fried lambs’ brains before, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
If you are flying with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon this month (June 2017), you can read the article and find my photo in their in-flight magazine, Discovery. If you are not flying, you can view the full article here or on the Discovery website.
Fried Lambs’ Brains
- Prep Time: 15 mins including soaking time
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 36 minute
- Yield: Serves 4-6
- 6 lambs’ brains
- sea salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2-3 cups plain flour seasoned with salt & pepper
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Soak the lambs’ brains in a large bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours to remove the excess blood.
- Carefully separate the lobes by removing the white central cortex in the middle.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and season it with some sea salt.
- Use a slotted spoon to carefully poach the brains in the simmering water for 3-5 minutes. You don’t want to cook it completely, but just long enough for the brains to firm up and become easier to handle.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the brains to a plate lined with kitchen paper and allow to cool.
- Fill a large pan with enough vegetable oil for deep-frying (about 5cm or 2 inch depth) and heat to about 180°C (350°F).
- Dip the poached brains in the beaten egg and lightly coat with some flour.
- Deep-fry the brains in batches for about 5 minutes each, or until they turn lovely and golden.
- Drain on some kitchen paper and sprinkle over some sea salt flakes.
- Serve immediately.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 261
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and using #eatlittlebird