Lost Dishes: Zuzu’s Petals: Crispy Fried Spinach

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HARLEY HAMMERMAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Restaurants hold a special place in our lives. We cherish memories of the hangout we went to in high school, the posh eatery we dined at on special occasions, and that place we kept returning to when it had been too long. We’ve lost many of the St. Louis restaurants once special to us. But the wonderful food they served can be resurrected. Lost Dishes collects the signature dishes from these lost St. Louis tables, preserving their recipes for today’s chefs and the chefs of tomorrow. Lost Dishes is a companion to the Lost Tables website created by Harley Hammerman, which looks back fondly at the iconic St. Louis restaurants which created these special dishes. We are partnering with Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful dishes. Hammerman and his wife Marlene are members of Shaare Emeth, and she is past president of the National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis.   Visit Lost Tables on Facebook


Crispy fried spinach was a favorite on the menu at David Slay’s ZuZu’s Petals in Kirkwood. Slay first found the dish while working in a restaurant in Paris, where flash-fried spinach was used as a stuffing for fish. In 1980, he introduced the concept to St. Louis at Cafe Hamton, where he offered it on top of halibut. Nobody commented on the halibut, but they loved the spinach, so he put it on his menu as a side dish.

YIELD: 2 to 3 servings

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • 1 qt canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 to 2 Tbsp)

PREPARATION

Quickly rinse spinach several times; drain very well. Don’t remove stems from the spinach leaves; they help the greens hold their shape.

Use a large pot, electric fryer or wok; add oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches, and heat to 400 degrees. Add spinach in batches that fit comfortably in the pot; submerge and fry about 2 minutes, until spinach turns very dark green. Remove with a slotted spoon; gently lay on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Put spinach in a bowl; toss with Parmesan, salt and lemon juice. Serve on a napkin folded to fit a plate.