Japanese cuisine is known for featuring a number of delicious fried foods. From tempura to tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlets) to karaage (breaded and fried chicken chunks), fried foods are a plenty around these parts. Maybe you’ve even wanted to try frying some of these delicious dishes yourself.
But a pervasive problem remains: with Japan’s strict garbage laws, how in the world do you dispose of cooking oil? One thing should be obvious, however. And that is that you should NEVER EVER dump cooking oil down the drain. So, what should you do?
Most cities will advise you in the garbage disposal manual that you should soak up cooking oil with newspaper or some other kind of paper (paper towels, etc.). However, many of you will not have a physical newspaper subscription, and using all those paper towels to soak up 100s of ml of oil is not only a waste of perfectly good paper towels, it’s downright expensive, depending on how much oil you have to get rid of.
Luckily, living in Japan means you have access to a number of amazing products that don’t exist in many, or any, other places.
One such wonder product is something called 固めるテンプル (katameru tenpuru).
In this particular box is 5 sticks of oil-hardening granules. The granules are 100% fatty acids from tang sesame seeds, so you don’t have to worry that you’re putting anything toxic in your cookware (still, don’t eat it).
Step 1: Turn off the burner, open 1 stick, and pour the contents into the hot oil. Stir it until it’s combined.
Step 2: Drop the empty paper tube into the oil. You can check the hardening by tugging gently on the tube later.
Step 3: Wait. The oil will harden as it cools, so take a load off. Go play the remastered Crash Bandicoot trilogy. (It’s sooooo good.)
Step 4: Make sure the oil is totally congealed.
Step 5: Use a spatula to scoop the hardened disc up out of the pan and into the garbage. If you have a big pan like mine, you can also break it up into smaller pieces before throwing it out. The oil is totally hard at this point, so don’t worry about making a mess.
Note: The edges may crumble a bit, but once you get the spatula underneath the disc, it should peel right up.
This should go in your 燃えるゴミ (burnable garbage). Now you have a nice cold pan that you can wash up easily.
1 stick of 固めるテンプル can harden up to 600ml of oil, so for standard frying, one stick should do it for most situations. A 10-stick box costs ￥300- ￥400, so they’re cost effective and save you the headache of dealing with oil. So don’t let the oil headache stop you from trying out different fry recipes at home.