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March 2017
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FRYING

FRYING

The modern diet, which emphasises good health, requires that we avoid almost all fried foods because of their high fat content, difficult digestibility and the tiring preparation. Fried foods contain a very high amount of fat, however, it has been noted that if you eat the right amount of fat, as well as creating energy reserves, it can be a precious ‘transporter’ of liposoluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and provides substances our bodies are not able to synthesise (for more information see fats). Excessive consumption of fats can cause obesity and cardiovascular illnesses.

It is a mistake to consider only the fats that you can see (or better, the condiments used when preparing foods) without bearing in mind those that are contained in the food itself. A good diet requires that we steam food or cook it in the microwave or on the grill so as to limit the amount of fats we add to foods that are already rich in fatty substances.

Cooking foods provokes physical and chemical reactions which affect the lipids that we eat, in both quantitative and qualitative terms. With regards to frying foods that contain little fat, for example potatoes, oils and fats penetrate the product and remain there in variable quantities (10-40%) and as a result the food takes on a fatty acid composition similar to that of the oil used for frying. There is no significant quantitative change to some foods which have a high fat content though. The problem is, is that golden and crunchy fried food is hard to resist, but it is possible to find a compromise that includes fried goods in your diet without exaggerating the amount and frequency. Being on a diet does not have to mean avoiding foods, but rather knowing about the appropriate quantities and qualities of all foods, with no foods left out.

Types of frying methods

Each food requires a particular frying method. You can fry foods as they are, in flour, in breadcrumbs or in batter.

Basic frying
This type of frying is adapted for compact and dry foods, like eggs or potatoes, which can withstand the heat of boiling oil. Preparation is very simple: place the food, possibly cut or sliced up, in hot oil and then drain it on kitchen roll when it is cooked.
Flour-coated
Before immersing the food in hot oil, it must be rolled in flour, or first some beaten egg and then flour. Once cooked, it needs to be drained and left to dry for a few minutes on kitchen roll. Foods that need to/can be flour-coated are: scallops, small fish, molluscs and some vegetables, like aubergines.
Breaded
This is what gives fried food its typical hard feature. Similar to the method above, the food is rolled in beaten egg, with a pinch of salt added to it, and then breadcrumbs before frying. To get the best result, and according to the Viennese method, roll the food in flour first, then the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs. By doing this, the breadcrumbs get bigger by coming away from the food slightly, resulting in a more crunchy product. The Milanese style involves rolling the food in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs mixed with grated cheese. For those who do not want to use egg, you can bread foods by rolling it in a flour and water mix first, flavoured with salt and nutmeg, and then the breadcrumbs. When you fry breaded ingredients, keep the oil clean so that it does not produce smoke or become bitter. Breading foods is ideal for chicken, cut up rabbit, slices of fish and boiled vegetables.
Batter
The ingredients for batter are flour, eggs (yolks, whites, or both), a pinch of salt, water and milk or possibly beer to dilute the batter. If it is going to be used with salted foods, it can be flavoured with cheese, parsley or other herbs, or on the other hand, if it going to be sweet, it can be enriched with lemon zest, orange or cognac. In order to get bigger when frying, brewer’s yeast is often added, or whisked (so they are stiff) egg whites. Making batter consists of sieving flour into a bowl, adding the water and whisking it with a fork until there are no more lumps, and then adding the eggs and other ingredients. The consistency must be such that it is thick but runny. Roll the food in the batter and then immerse in boiling oil. The ideal foods for this frying method are fruit and vegetables.

The types of fats for frying

For good results, it is important to choose the right type of fat from olive oil, seed oil, butter, margarine and lard.

  • Olive oil: this is well adapted for frying because it can withstand high temperatures and does not smell. However, it does have a very particular taste so it is not appropriate for delicate foods.
  • Seed oil: this type of fat (oil obtained from seeds) is adapted for frying because it is tasteless, even though it has an unpleasant odour. It can withstand high temperatures and, because of its light and delicate characteristic, it is recommended for frying sweet foods.
  • Butter and margarine: this is only used for meats and breaded vegetables and for shallow frying at low temperatures (high temperatures make it go black).
  • Lard: this is the most flavoursome fat but it is not used very often as it easily penetrates the food and must be eaten quickly, as well as leaving an unpleasant smell in the air.

Useful advice

  • There must always be enough oil to cook with otherwise the food burns quickly. Furthermore, after frying something, if you filter the oil, it can be used again.
  • To avoid the oil burning when it gets very hot, ensure that it is not left without anything to cook! If the food is not ready but the oil is, just place a bit of bread in the oil temporarily.
  • When immersing the food, the oil must be at the right temperature. To check this, place a cocktail stick in and if bubbles form on the surface of the stick, it is ready. This method of checking must be carried out before frying each different food.
  • The temperature is proportional to the size of the food; the smaller the size of the food, the higher the temperature must be.

FRYING

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