Details are often what make a meal feel special. Little extras, like nice napkins, a crackling sugar crust on your sweet pie, or your own personal head of roasted garlic can help the annual holiday meal standout in years to come. Crispy, flash-fried sage leaves can do the same.
Holidays can be hard for garnishes. There are so many components, so many dishes moving in and out of the oven, that a finishing flourish of small green leaves can seem very low on the list of priorities. But fried sage leaves offer more than a pop of green—they offer texture and flavour.
Fried sage has a toastier, warmer, less pungent flavour than the fresh bois. It’s still sage, but it’s more approachable. (Have I been known to eat them like little green chips? Yes.) Fried sage is also crispy, which is a sensation people like to experience in their mouths. And, though I said the “pop of green” wasn’t crucial, it does look quite pretty in an Instagram photo, which you (or several of your guests) will definitely be posting. Truly, there are no downsides to fried sage.
If time is a concern, know that sage can be flash fried—from start to finish—in about 10 minutes. If you are too harried for a 10-minute task, delegate the frying of the sage to that one person who keeps milling around and asking what “they can do to help.”
Flash-Fried Sage Leaves
1 bunch of leaves (about 30)
1/4 cup of neutral oil (plain vegetable is good)
Heat the oil in a pan until it starts to shimmer. Add a single leaf. If it floats and sizzles, your oil is ready. Fry the sage, working in batches of five or six leaves, about three seconds per side. Fish them out of the oil with a fork, set them on paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Sprinkle them whole on your main course meats, crumble them into mashed potatoes, or place them in a pretty bowl and let guest adorn their plates as they please.