Crispy Spinach

One of my favourite treats at Chinese restaurants has always been crispy spinach. The idea is simple: fry spinach leaves until crispy, sweeten with sugar, consume the wonderfulness.

Tonight I thought to myself, “Self, this doesn’t seem that hard. And I’ve got a bag of spinach leaves in the fridge that is invariably gonna go bad. I should try this.”

So I did. Put some vegetable oil in a pan (it’s what I had on hand, and the smoking point is higher than olive oil, which is the only other thing I have on hand), turn it up to high, wait for the oil to get nice and hot.

Problem #1: “High” is too high for vegetable oil on my stove. Solution: turn down to 6.

Problem #2: How the heck long do you put in the spinach? It took me a few tries to figure out the answer, but eventually I did: keep it in the oil until you just start to see a few brown spots, then take it out. This was actually tougher to figure out than you might think, since the spinach doesn’t actually look crispy while it’s in the oil. But the “until the first traces of brown appear” seems to be a good working guideline.

Problem #3: Oil splatters. Well, duh. I’ve made enough latkas to know that one. But still, lots of splattering oil = unhappy Julies. Solution: buy an apron. (I’ll get there. I promise.)

Problem #4: What the heck to do with the leftover frying oil? Somehow, pouring it down the drain just doesn’t seem smart. Oh gurus of cooking, help please! What do I do with a few tablespoons of used frying oil after I’m done frying?

All told, though, it came out quite well. I’ll probably do it again. After I get an apron and figure out what to do with the oil, that is.

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