Although Frizzled Leeks sounds like a silly name, these are commonly used in restaurants as a garnish for soups, salads, and things like a chop or chicken breast. I have cooked these up for wait staff who ate them like potato chips after shift with beer or glasses of white wine and in one case, oysters. They keep well in a box with a tight fitting lid for several days, and they are great for making things look fancy. Very easy!
2 large leeks, white and palest green parts only
2-4 cups neutral flavored oil with high flash point such as grapeseed or sunflower
Salt to taste
Cut the leeks into 2 inch lengths, then halve them lengthwise. Slice each half along the length into very thin strips. Rinse well in cold water removing all grit, using your fingers to separate the pieces and agitate. Drain and dry well, blotting with a towel to remove water.
When leeks are thoroughly dry, heat oil over medium in a pan so it is at least 1 1/2 inches deep. When oil surface is shivering, add a couple pieces of leek to the oil and fry for 10-15 seconds, or until the threads are just golden. Remove form the oil and place on a paper towel to dry and cool completely. The leeks should crisp up as they dry and be crunchy and golden. Taste some. If the threads taste soggy and are not crunchy, turn the heat up to medium-high and repeat the test. If the leeks taste the least bit burnt or are browned, reduce the cooking time and/or lower the heat. Remember, every stove is a little different.
When you have the time and temperature adjusted, fry the leeks in small batches, being sure to separate the threads in the oil. Remove the leeks when ready using a spider, mesh skimmer, or slotted spoon.
Lightly season with a little salt while the threads are still warm if you wish.
When done, cool the oil a bit and then strain into a clean heat-proof vessel and save the oil for other uses such as sautéing, seasoning, or as part of a dressing. Store in the refrigerator.
When the frizzled leeks are cooled, line a tub with a tight fitting lid with a paper towel and gently transfer the threads into the box, and cover. They may be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Frizzled leeks are great garnish for creamy or pureed soups, or on top of salads. They work well with all manner of seafood, and are a nice contrast to poached mild foods such as chicken breast filets. They add a nice contrast for salads such as French lentils with poached eggs as well.
YIELD: About 2 cups