September 02 2015 – Robert Fiumara
When you think of frying foods, southern cuisine probably springs to mind. But you’d be incorrect to assume that only southerners enjoy fried foods: fried foods appear on 73% of menus across the country. Fried food is a trend that’s here to stay but to keep your customers happy, you can’t just throw any food into a vat of oil and expect that to be enough.
There are a variety of ways to fry food. Most chefs have their own preference for oil to use when frying foods. Some use oils that are high performing and last for a long time while other chefs stick with flavorful oils. Some vary between both types of oils when frying food. Chef Mike Tambasco uses a mixture of fresh lard and 25% locally produced sunflower oil and says that this mixture produces much crispier food while prolonging the use of his fresh lard. The combination of oils also makes cleaning the fryers and pans much easier.
At Main Streets Eat, a whole-animal butchery in Tennessee, Chef Eric cuts his lard by using half canola oil. He claims that the canola oil gives his fried foods an even, golden color and while it lasts a long time, it does not overwhelm the flavor of the lard or the foods that are being fried. Many consumers claim that they would be more likely to try fried foods if restaurants used oils that are lower in saturated fat in their frying process. Many chefs are taking the initiative and switching from soy oil to high performing canola oil due to the oil’s health attributes.
One of the biggest concerns that consumers have when it comes to fried foods is the risk of allergens, especially when foods have been fried in nut oil like peanut oil or almond oil. Many chefs combat this concern by using canola oil to fry food and only using nut oils in their own, dedicated fryer. Animal fats are making a comeback with many chefs breaking down their own meat and using the rendered fat to fry foods. Animal fat is great for frying or sautéing vegetables like mushrooms, especially porcini and oyster mushrooms. Whatever the oil you choose when frying foods, the number one concern is making sure the oil does not overwhelm the natural flavor of the food being fried.
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