This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her photographer friend Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, coauthored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

As a kosher family in the 1970s-era San Francisco Bay Area, dining options were limited for the Sussmans, but we always had Vegi Food. A vegan Buddhist Chinese restaurant in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, Vegi Food was my temple, the finest eating establishment there was, my Michelin three-star long before I knew that constellation even existed. The place was tiny, with no more than 10 tables, the daily special scrawled with magic markers on construction paper, tiny strands of Christmas lights dangling every month of the year. And the food — silky eggplant with fresh peas, mu shu vegetables with hoisin and those impossibly thin pancakes, shatteringly crunchy vegetable pot stickers — was incredibly delicious. Of all the dishes my sister Sharon and I looked forward to, the crispy sweet-and-sour walnuts was our hands-down favorite: fried walnut halves sautéed with fresh vegetables in an orangey glaze with a hint of spice.

The first step is deep-frying the walnuts, which keeps them crispy during sautéing. I experimented with all sorts of batters and breadings, but the power of a simple fry is undeniable. Pro tip: Fry a few extra nuts for snacking.