Unexpected Favorite: A Paper Fan

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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?