American Steel
Contributed by ben_conoley, Posted by Fat Wreck Chords

A couple of weeks ago Punknews announced Food Not Songs, a cook book being published by us and Suburban Home Records. In the months leading up to the book Punknews will be publishing weekly recipes, many of which will be available in the print edition.

This week's recipe comes from American Steel's John Peck. The band just released Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts. Why not pick up the record and have a great meal with it?

This variant of crab rangoon uses squash blossoms as the crispy outer shell. The flowers are tough and prickly when raw, but once they're fried, even the base of the flower and top of the stem can be eaten.

Squash blossoms aren't carried by many stores, but you can often find them at farmers' markets or fancier produce stores. I have two squash plants in a planter box on my deck; in the warmer months they provide enough flowers for me to make this recipe several times a month. If you live somewhere with actual garden space, squash plants can really take off. If you still want the plant to produce squash, use only the male flowers (i.e. the ones with no squash attached).

If you have access to a real fryer, disregard all frying instructions and fire that sucker up. Your actual cooking time will probably be less than a minute, and the end result will have a lighter, tempura-like texture.

Squash Blossoms Rangoon
Serves 2-4

Ingredients ½ white or yellow onion, minced
¼ cup cream cheese
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
1½ cup rice flour
12 oz club soda
2 Tbsp olive oil
At least 2 cups canola, vegetable, or peanut oil, for frying
16 large squash blossoms

Ingredients for dipping sauce

2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar or honey
1/4 cup ponzu sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions Mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.

Trim stems to ½ inch and wash the flowers under a light stream of water. Place on a paper towel to dry.

Pour rice flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add club soda slowly, stirring with a fork to mix completely.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add white or yellow onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add cream cheese, black pepper, and cinnamon, then reduce heat, stirring constantly. Cook for 1-2 minutes; when mixture is soft, remove from heat.

In a large steel or iron pan, add enough canola or vegetable oil to cover the pan to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over a medium-high flame.

Using a small spoon, carefully fill each flower with 1-2 tbsp of the onion/cheese mixture (try to keep the petals attached and as intact as possible). Whenever possible, twist petal ends to create a seal.

Once the oil is hot enough but not smoking (a drop of water should crackle immediately), dip the stuffed flowers one at a time into the batter, and set them on their sides in the pan. Fry about 3 minutes per side (flip each piece once but avoid stirring); transfer to paper towels to drain.

Place the bowl of sauce in the center of a large plate. Arrange the squash blossoms around it, stems-out, in a circle.