Friday, June 13, 2008

Frying, the Spanish way

Frying, the Spanish way
Or, reduce, reuse, recycle.
From: Nava

The secret is not a secret at all: use reusable vegetable oils. That's olive, corn or sunflower; those three are the oils that are highest in oleic acid (therefore lower in "any other fatty acids"), it's about 99.99% of the fatty acids in olive oil and upwards of 90% in the other two (if memory serves, I'm writing offline and don't have my "natural chemistry" classnotes here). Oleic acid can be heated a lot more than other oils, it doesn't "coagulate" with itself and can be reused; it's also good for your cholesterol - well, that's how the olive industry says it, in reality it's at least less bad than fatty acids with several double bonds (found in "lesser oils" and animal fat) or, worse, with trans- bonds (found in hydrogenated fats). The only times myself, my grandmothers or Mom have ever thrown used oil away it was because we were moving house: that's a combined 250 years of cooking. And it's one of the reasons why a single liter of olive oil can last yours truly half a year or more, in spite of not using any other oils.

When you're done using these oils for frying, you do not throw them away, but store them. If you have a small pan (a handspan in diameter from edge to edge) that you use exclusively to fry eggs and single-person omelettes, as most Spanish households do (I've never been to one which didn't, "frying an egg" being defined as the lowest common denominator of cooking), then you just leave your eggs oil in the eggs pan.

You need to keep between one and three enameled jars or cups for your used oil. Pour your oil there through a thin-metal-mesh colander when you're done frying. Most veggies won't leave any taste to the oil. Meat will and its own fats transfer to the oil, so oil from meat must be reused either for the same kind of meat or for things like soup, mashed potatoes (instead of gravy, add a tiny tiny bit of used oil) or tomato sauce. Fish transfers a lot of taste, specially blue fish: you can separate it (and use it for your fish stock, rice, pasta) or you can fry some leaves of lettuce before transferring it to the common jar, you may need to change the leaves a couple times until the oil passes the "ok, this doesn't smell like fish at all any more" test.

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