Flavorful Fats

Sorry for the lapse. I’m working on a big post about noodles. In the meantime…

We’re almost out of canola oil.

The better I get at cooking, the longer it takes me to go through a bottle of canola oil. It’s not because I’m cooking light: it’s because when I reach for an oil or fat, I’m more likely to choose something with flavor. I keep the canola in the fridge so it doesn’t go rancid before I’ve used all 32 ounces.

Sometimes a flavorless cooking oil is exactly what you want, although nothing besides brownie mix is coming to mind. Most often, though, I’ll reach for olive oil when I’m cooking Italian; peanut oil for Chinese and Thai; lard for frying potatoes and many other things; and butter for everything else.

Has anyone else noticed this? Also, sometimes I hear people talk about the flavor differences between supposedly flavorless oils like canola, corn, sunflower, and soybean. To me, however, the refined versions of these oils that you find in the supermarket really are indistinguishable. I buy canola not because it’s rich in monounsaturated fat, but because that’s what Ming Tsai used to use on East Meets West.

7 thoughts on “Flavorful Fats

  1. vika

    I grew up using sunflower oil. When it’s unrefined (no, really unrefined, not the sh..tuff them crazy kids sell around here these days) and fresh, it’s very flavorful indeed. I miss it. :)

  2. Wendy

    Yes, I have the same problem. I’ve been trying lately to use canola oil when it really doesn’t matter, just to save money, but ever since I dropped the vegan, I’m using butter most places I used to use canola.

    The only time I can think of that I actually want canola is when I make mayonnaise–all-olive is a little too strong.

  3. mamster Post author

    Hey, veek. I’d love to get into playing around with more of the unrefined and semi-refined oils. The only one I keep on hand is cold-filtered peanut oil, which is fabulous. But I imagine a good corn or sunflower oil is just as good in its own way.

    Karen, I’ll check out the noodle roundup, although now I have an image of noodle lassoing in my head.

  4. Andrew Feldstein

    I use light olive oil for this purpose. I probably started because it was monounsaturated.

    For Jewish cooking, it has to be corn oil though. Mazola. Nothing else will make the house smell right!

  5. Zrblm

    Hmm, I find the pretty standard sunflower oil I have in the cupboard smells fairly strongly of sunflower seeds.

    Though, yeah, it doesn’t taste like much.

  6. HabaneroSuz

    I use them not only by flavor, but by smoke point, so if I’m stir-frying it’s peanut or canola not just because it imparts almost no flavor in and of itself, but because I can get the pan much hotter without setting off the smoke alarm.

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