The picture above is a Taiwanese fried chicken that I made recently.
After about a decade of cooking for myself, I finally started deep-frying. I’m ashamed that I didn’t start earlier. There were several reasons I had reservations for deep-frying at home. They were
1. Its unhealthy
2. There’s the need to use a lot of oil (and hence costly)
3. You can use very little oil, which produces inferior fried food.
4. Its labor intensive.
5. Cleaning up is too troublesome.
I gradually overcame these ideas, finally arriving at a situation where I deep fry every week or so. These were the reasons I gave home deep frying another chance:
1. I remember very vaguely about some Good Eats episode where Alton Brown said that fried food doesn’t absorb much oil when done right. I forgot the reasons behind this, but if Alton Brown says it, I believe him. In addition, when I only ate fried food outside my house, my cravings for fried food would be so intense that I would only eat fried food. When I went to a gourmet burger place, I got a large order of fries (feeds about 4 people as a side, 2 people by itself) and devoured it. I figured that was probably much unhealthier than frying food at home.
2-3. I figured that to make good fried food, you need a lot of oil. And you do. However, what I did not put into consideration is that oil is dirt cheap. Also, I saw a Japanese food programme (one of those that breaks down cooking scientifically. Imagine Good Eats or Serious Eat’s Food Lab column turned into a TV show) where they found out through experimentation that oxidization of oil does not occur that dramatically, especially when you’re taking good care of the oil, filtering it and keeping it out of sunlight. The show had data of oil used for a few dozen frying sessions. Although I don’t know if I would go that far, I’m very willing to believe anything that is advantageous for my life with fried food.
4. Not really. The thing is, anything breaded and fried is tasty. However, a lot of other ingredients require a lot of steps to make them tasty. With frying, you know that the worst food you’ll end up with is still up to a certain standard. Tempura, for example, is just battered and fried stuff. Very little work needed. But its still delicious.
5. This was the thing that I was struggling with until very recently. Oil splatters aren’t a problem, since I use a 14 inch wok for frying, and there’s very little oil that make it out of that vessel. However, taking care of the leftover oil was a pain in the ass. In Japan, they have these oil pots with built in filters, but here in Kansas, I had no choice but to use two layers of kitchen towels. First, the towels will be soaked in oil by the time I’m done, covering anything that’s in contact with the towels with a layer of oil. This also meant that a lot of the oil was lost, disappearing into the paper towels. Secondly, the oil took forever to seep through, so I took about 20 minutes pouring oil, resting, and pouring oil again. I would have to thoroughly wash my hands in between pouring so that my keyboard won’t be covered in oil. I started to consider using my aeropress to expedite the process, but stopped because I could not drive the image of me, covered in oil after some freak accident. I’ve been covered in vegetable oil before, and once was enough. Washing up using dish detergent is pretty depressing.
However, I recently remembered that I had one of those Swiss Gold reusable coffee filters made out of very fine steel mesh. This was when I had grand plans of having an in-house pourover setup, until I found out the Swiss Gold stuff fits very uncomfortably in pourover cones.
I set it up over the remaining pot part of a Monet french press
And it worked beautifully. The oil filtered through quickly, even in its cold state. Even though I ran the oil through AFTER I filtered the oil in one of my sloppy paper towel setups, the mesh caught a good amount of fine sediments that the towels somehow did not get. And cleanup was very easy.
I guess I will be frying much more often now. I fear for my arteries. Or whatever mythical organs that get damaged by eating fried food. I’m not going to believe that kind of health nut propaganda.