Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Well-Stocked Pantry, Chapter Two

So, we have already established that you can probably call me up to come over and borrow almost any arcane ingredient. Dried shitake mushroom? Yup, got 'em. Tapioca starch? You bet. But what about less arcane ingredients, what do I keep on hand in the way of, say, oil?

In my pantry right now I have: extra-virgin green olive oil, pure olive oil (I know, you're shocked. I'll get to that in a moment), canola oil, sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil, chili oil, and peanut oil.

Pumpkin seed oil is great swirled into a squash soup at the end. It is strong and bold. It is also great by itself as dressing on a salad of mache. Walnut oil is a must when making a salad with apples or pears, or apricots and pecans. Chili oil is great for adding heat to asian sauces, while sesame oil gives them depth and a nutty flavor you can't get with anything else.

The uses for extra-virgin olive oil are of course endless and you don't need me to point out to you the best uses for it. I have always used it for cooking. I recently, however, became a convert to using pure olive oil for pan-searing. I can hear you gasping, collectively. "But, June, how COULD you?" Some of you are probably swooning right at this very moment, your faith in me shattered. You are thinking that you may never be able to trust me again.

Well, get over it! I attended a class on pan-searing with my mom, just for fun. (Not that I had anything to learn, mind you, but I like being at the top of my class.) I nearly sneered at the chef in disgust when she used pure olive oil. She convinced me, however. When pan-searing, you want to get a nice crust on your food, searing it quickly to seal in the juices, keeping a nice even temperature. Pure olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra-virgin, and in a dish where you will be finishing with a sauce, pure olive oil will do just fine. You can also get the higher smoke point with grapeseed oil or canola oil, but the pure olive oil will give a deeper flavor to the dish. Just don't let me catch you using it in sauces, dressings, pastas, or sautes. I will berate you mercilessly. And you know it. Don't tempt me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yaaaaay! Ummm seriously, would you consider putting together a pantry list for us mere mortals? I was stoked to see you writing again...