Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Isotope Enhanced Shallow Frying Oil

Improve cooking convenience with nuclear material
  [vote for,

Shallow frying is a common food preparation technique. Our example today will be the fried egg. This can be made to look easy with a new non-stick pan or carefully seasoned iron surface. However, if external parties operate a broad definition of "dishwasher safe", then frying an egg can become a sticky mess quite quickly.

The key seems to be the maintenance of a hydrophobic surface. This is achieved by coating with PTFE or seasoning, where long-chain fats are polymerized to iron. Now, we should be able to replicate this by simply adding cooking oil before the egg. Sadly, this does not work as the oil is less dense than the egg, which is mostly water. The egg will always have a tendency to sink through the oil*.

The problem here, on Earth at least, is the relative densities of the cooking apparatus. The pan is likely metal, iron, aluminium, something like that. Nice and dense at the bottom, good. The top is the egg, with a density of about 1.025 g/cm3. Now, we can't really change that, not if we still want to fry eggs. The problem is the oil, taking stearic acid as my model fatty acid,** it's density is all wrong. It's 0.94 at room temp but worse, 0.85 g/cm3 when heated a little. Water, therefore egg, barely changes with temperature.

So, we need new oil. I recommend leaving chemists out of this since chemistry labs smell bad and they would probably just suggest mercury. Instead, let's feed our oil- producing mechanism of choice*** a diet heavily enriched in C14 and deuterium. Assuming 100% labeling, stearic acid now has a molecular mass of 356, up from 284. 125%, which brings out heated oil density to 1.06! Crucially, more than a warm egg!

Now, we have a solution. The cooking apparatus has a pleasing descending density from bottom to top, and the egg should float above the oil and not stick to the pan.

*I'm willing to establish the role of gravity in oil cooking should research funding be forthcoming. The outline plan involves commercial deep fryers, the vomit comet and the public figure that gets the most internet points these days.

**oils are mostly triglycerides with mixed fatty acid chains. Further detail is unnecessary and would require talking to lipid people.

***Cow/planty things

bs0u0155, Sep 11 2019


       Surely the simpler solution is to leave the egg and oil as they are, but fry them from above?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 11 2019

       //fry them from above?//   

       I considered this. At first glance, this makes sense. You can go, bottom to top: egg, oil, pan. This leaves a problem, but a solvable one. Simply find a frying pan with a lower density than the oil. I was some way into the search for this substance, when I realized that I was missing one component of the density stack, namely air. This is an issue, since the egg, oil, unobtanium pan and heat source have the irritating tendency to want to sink through the lower air layer.   

       The solution to this, of course, is to replace air with something denser than egg. Fortunately, I'd already thought of that: a heavy isotope swapped oil. Simply fill the entire kitchen level to the bottom of the egg, find a thermally conductive solid with a density below ~0.75g/cm3, and you're in business.
bs0u0155, Sep 11 2019

       We see a snag ...   

       Deuterium is actually toxic to the typical biology of your planet. Molecules incorporating D instead of H, particularly enzymes, exhibit different activity.   

       So your oil production process is going to have to be fully synthetic, despite the fact you're producing an organic compound. The smelly chemical lab is throught that door over there; be polite, they have lots of dangerous materials close to hand.   

       Also, minor point but the oil is going to be toxic to any organism that consumes it. We strongly recommend extensive LD50 trials using the feline model. As a guide, the lethal dose of most long- chain paraffins is about 10 litres; use a 25 litre container otherwise when you hold them under, it slops over the edge snd is wasted. 10 litres can deliver a whole afternoon of amusement at a very modest price, and then you can use the remaining liquid to destroy the evidence by burning the heap of bedraggled little corpses you've collected.
8th of 7, Sep 11 2019

       Not sure I've calculated it correctly, but it looks like your oil should generate about a watt or so per kilogram.   

       And radiocarbon date to about a quarter-million years in the future.
lurch, Sep 12 2019


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