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Fuzzy basil cheese sticks from In Praise of Veg

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 sticks
The return-on-investment with this dish is absolutely ridiculous, when you consider that it’s basically just mozzarella on a stick, with a little flaky pastry. However, it’s the basil that makes it. When basil is fried, it takes on a completely different character – like sun-drenched grass on a hot summer’s day. Deep-fry some extra leaves for garnishing, then serve as swiftly as possible… but don’t forget to save a couple by the frying pot for yourself. They’ll go quick!
10 minutes


  • Rice bran or sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • 250 g (9 oz) scamorza or hard mozzarella
  • 300 g (10 ½ oz) kataifi pastry (see tip)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup (50 g) basil leaves
  • Salt flakes for sprinkling


  • Have 12 bamboo skewers at the ready.
  • Heat 6 cm of oil in a small saucepan to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 15 seconds.
  • Meanwhile, cut the cheese into oblongs about 1.5 cm x 4 cm in size. Thread them onto the skewers – one or two per skewer.
  • Pull the pastry apart to the width of the cheese, then cut or tear into 50 cm lengths.
  • Dip the cheese oblongs in the egg wash, then wrap each one up in the pastry, tucking the pastry end into the top of itself to form a parcel.
  • Working in batches, deep-fry the parcels in the hot oil for 4 minutes, or until golden. Deep-fry the basil leaves for 1 minute, or until crisp, then briefly drain on paper towel.
  • Sprinkle the hot cheese sticks with salt flakes and the crispy basil leaves, allow to cool slightly so diners don’t burn their mouths, and serve.

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