I keep a paper fan in my kitchen not to cool myself off during steamy summer baking sessions, but to help me cook more flavorful vegetables. How do I use it?When I blanch vegetables, especially delicate leafy greens, I cool them off by fanning them quickly in the colander rather than tossing them into a ice water bath. This stops the cooking without diluting the flavor of the vegetables, and makes a noticeable difference in the finished dish.
I learned this trick in the excellent Japanese cookbook Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh. At first I was skeptical, but after using this technique for several months, I tried using an ice water bath again and was disappointed by how waterlogged the vegetables tasted. While I can tell the difference in sturdier veggies like green beans, it is most marked in quick-cooking leafy greens like spinach or radish greens.
Japanese fans, called uchiwa, seem to work the best because they are a little stiffer than most paper fans, but in a pinch I've used a piece of thin cardboard or even a magazine, tossing the vegetables around in the colander a bit as I cool them off with my makeshift fan. It really works!
• Find it: Paper Paddle Fan, $2.50 at Luna Bazaar
Have you ever used this technique?
Related: How To Blanch Vegetables
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)