The Science of Frying
Every now and then, we all crave that feeling of sinking our teeth into crispy fried snacks, especially on cold rainy days. Let’s look a little deeper into how this method of cooking earned its reputation and how it can turn even the simplest of ingredients into something delicious.
When Food Meets Oil
Deep-frying accomplishes two goals. First, it dehydrates your food. Just as the food hits the hot oil, you’ll see bubbles forming around it. These bubbles are nothing but pockets of water suddenly vapourizing and escaping the food into the atmosphere. The hotter the oil, the more vigorously these water vapour bubbles jump out, and the faster your food becomes crisp.
Second, Maillard reaction occurs wherein proteins and carbohydrates break down to give your food a beautiful golden-brown colour and rich flavour that is associated with fried food. Now you know why fried food tastes oh-so-good!
More Or Less About Oil
It is often thought that cooking food in oil at a lower temperature will absorb more oil. However, experts have debunked this myth. As oil dehydrates the food, it replaces the water molecules in the food with oil molecules. Dehydration happens a lot faster in very hot oil, thereby sucking out water molecules and filling the food with oil molecules. So, the hotter oil you fry in, the more fat the food absorbs.
Choose The Right Oil
Before we delve into which oil is correct, one thing that needs to be explained is the smoking point. The smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to burn and smoke. When you cook with oil that is at its smoking point, you impart burnt flavours to your food. Choose an oil that has a higher smoking point – canola being the latest choice – as it will give you better results in terms of taste and health.
Why is canola a good choice, you ask? Its neutral taste, pale colour, and high heat tolerance (smoke point of 242˚C) makes it an ideal choice for deep frying. Although olive oil is a much healthier option, its low smoke point, dominant flavour and high cost push it down further on the list of oils used for frying. Other good oils that can withstand higher temperatures are peanut oil and vegetable oil.
Use It Again
Oil is an expensive commodity so tossing out perfectly reusable oil can be a bit harsh. The trick is to keep your oil clean. Once the hot oil is cooled, strain it using a muslin cloth. Any food particle that remains in the oil may decompose and that’s something that can turn the oil unusable. Once you have strained it, store the oil in a sealed container.
Each time the oil is used, it gets more and more destabilized. It starts looking thick and gummy due to changes in its molecular structure. It has a stronger odour, cloudy surface with a strange rancid smell. If you notice such changes, toss out the oil.
Don’t Forget Your Coat
Since the entire process of frying happens fairly quickly, it’s best to protect your food from losing moisture. Here is where you insulate or coat your food with batter, flour or a breading. By doing so, you get a beautiful crunchy exterior and tender inside.
Now that you know how food fries in hot oil, do check out some of our recipes that you can indulge in. We especially love…
Beetroot Herb Quinoa Fritters
Churros with Chocolate Sauce
Gouda & Olive Bread Pakodas
Spicy Sesame Garlic Tofu
Spinach Cheese Balls