This is an ideal pass-around starter for a night of Latin American dining adventure
1 pair calf's brains (about 3/4 pound)
3 tablespoons lime juice plus lime wedges for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup fine bread crumbs or cracker meal
1 quart vegetable oil for deep-frying
coarse salt for sprinkling the brains
1. Soak the brains in cold water to cover for about 2 hours. Remove brains from water, and pull off as much of the delicate filament that surrounds them as you can.
2. Place brains in a small saucepan and cover with water (about 1 cup). Add the 3 tablespoons of lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, then simmer very gently for 15 minutes. Remove brains from water and let cool.
3. When brains are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size pieces (each roughly 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch). Toss them with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the ground cumin.
4. Place the flour in a bowl and slowly add the 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water to it, making a medium-thick slurry. Dip the brains in the slurry, coating the pieces well, then roll the brains in the bread crumbs. Let stand for 5 minutes.
5. Heat the oil in a wok, deep-fryer, or large pot until it reaches 365 degrees. Drop the brains into the oil in 2 batches. Cook each batch until the pieces are very crisp and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with coarse salt, and serve immediately with the lime wedges. Pass hot sauce, if desired.
This is the answer to the brain problem. Brains are much beloved in Cuba, where they are prepared in many different ways. Deep-frying them, however -- and offering the crunchy morsels with a wedge of lime -- is the most popular method. We've taken this great dish a step further, by giving it the light taste of cumin. Once you get the deep-fried bits to the table, you might also want to consider adding a few drops of your favorite Caribbean hot sauce -- not a Cuban touch, but delicious nevertheless. This is an ideal pass-around starter for a night of Latin American dining adventure. Makes enough for 8 people as a pass-around starter