A friend had a small fryer sitting around and thought I might like to have it. She thought right.
Years ago, my roommates and I had a fryer. It was a furious month of frying everything we could think of; from broccoli to bacon-wrapped hot-dogs, everything went in that we could think of. I was determined to be a little more responsible with my new fryer. Full disclosure: I did fry asparagus first. It was awesome.
I had a plan for some fried chicken but decided to ease into it with some onion rings. I honestly have no idea where I came up with the idea, possibly from the potato chip chicken recipe, but I thought breading onion rings with tortilla chip crumbs would be cool. There's a seasoning called Tajin that's available in many Mexican markets. It consists of chili powder, dehydrated lime juice, and salt. If you can't find it you can make your own substitute with chili powder, lime zest, and salt. It gives the tortilla chip onion ring a really nice zesty flavor.
For a second flavor, I was thinking something Japanese-inspired. I'd thought of panko but that had been done. There are some fantastic edamame crackers at Trader Joe's I love to snack on that I felt would make a very solid base. I added some dried shiitake mushrooms and pulverized them in a food processor. Just make sure the mushrooms are completely dried or they will stick to the blades and stop the pulverizing. I had to lay the shiitakes I had out on a baking sheet to dry them completely in the oven at 150º.
I soaked the onion rings in beer. It adds another dimension to the flavor and what little alcohol there is cooks off in the frying. My best tip for frying: do it outside. It saves the house from smelling like a fryer and it makes a little bit of an oily mess.
I made these for a BBQ and, honestly, I can't tell you which flavor was the most preferred since all of the onion rings were gone in the first 15 minutes.
Do your own taste test and let me know how it works out.