The beauty of preparing food is the variety of methods you can use to complete a meal.
Chef-cum-schoolteacher Aaron Lock has had his year 12 students studying the difference between deep and shallow frying.
"Frying is a quick method of cooking, with the simple difference between deep and shallow being the amount of oil or fat used," Lock said.
"Pan frying, sauteing and stir frying are all kinds of shallow frying. You can control the amount of oil or fat used in the cooking process.
"The word saute is French and means jump, so this refers to the food that is being cooked moving around in the pan. Because of this high heat it will put a crust on the food. When done properly this stops the food from drying out and gives you a nice golden brown presentation."
The oil or fat used had two purposes: to crisp the surface (gives the food its colour) and to stop the food from sticking to the pan. These days most households have non-stick pans which help reduce the amount of fat or oil used.
Stir frying is a very quick way of getting the family meal up when time is short in the evenings.
Now for the "evil" deep frying.
"I use the word 'evil' because of the large amounts of oil or fat used, which is not always the best for our health," Lock said.
"But when used sparingly, Friday night takeaways for example, it has its place in our diet. Moderation is the key. If you are having deep-fried food in your diet more than once a week, then maybe it's time to look at making a few changes."
"One of the main motivators for writing this page is to get the children in your house into the kitchen and start cooking. When you are frying [both shallow and deep], parents must stress the safety factor. If approached in a haphazard manner the results can be disastrous. There is a saying I use with the students: 'you control the heat, the heat does not control you'.
"Special attention must be given to deep frying. It is not good practice to heat up a large amount of oil or fat in a pot. Use a cooking thermometer to keep control of the temperature or, better still, go and buy a household deep fryer with a lid and a thermostat. That way you know exactly what the temperature is and all the oil or fat is contained.
"Never tip the fat or oil down the sink once you've finished cooking. This may get rid of it straight away, but it is likely to block your drains and over time will cost you a heap in plumbing bills. Have an old tin handy to pour it into and when it cools throw it away with the rubbish," Lock said.
The two student chefs in action this week are Oliver Ackroyd and Jesse Grayling.
They were initially hesitant but the lure of deep-fried icecream hooked them.
Jesse has two tips. Crumb your schnitzel, be it beef, pork or chicken, and make your own breadcrumbs. These can be made from stale bread. Freeze any unused bread until you have a decent amount to process. Thaw it and spread it across a large roasting dish and dry it slowly in a low oven; turn the bread to allow any steam to escape. When it is crackle dry, blitz it in your food processor and keep the crumbs in a sealed container.
Oliver's tips concern the stir fry and the icecream dishes. With the stir fry, he recommends you cut everything first to a standard size. .
"This will ensure everything is cooked evenly'.
The icecream must be really frozen and thoroughly crumbed to prevent leakage. Crumb it three times if necessary, refreezing between each coating.
Stir-fried chicken with vegetables
With this recipe you can add any type of vegetables you want (frozen work just as well as fresh). You can substitute the chicken for any other type of meat; just make sure it is a tender cut.
400g udon noodles
(or substitute any other noodles,
1 Tbsp canola or rice bran oil
400g chicken breast
small green cabbage, shredded
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 stick of celery
1 tsp garlic
2 tsp sweet chilli sauce
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
Thinly slice the chicken. You can marinate the chicken if you wish - add your favorite flavours and set aside.
Wash your knives, chopping board and hands. Then you can prepare the vegetables. Slice them all thinly and evenly.
Heat a wok or frying pan, add a little oil and stir-fry chicken for 5 minutes to brown. Remove meat to one side.
Add a little more oil and stir-fry the 'hard' vegetables (carrots, onion and celery) for 2 to 3 minutes over a high heat. Then add the 'soft' vegetables (pepper, broccoli, mushroom, cabbage) and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add chilli, hoisin and soy sauces and return the cooked chicken to the pan, tossing well. Add noodles and stir-fry, tossing quickly, to heat through. Serve immediately.
1 Schnitzel per person
(flour with salt and pepper)
(eggs and milk mixed together)
Oil and butter, for cooking
(The amount of flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs will vary depending on the amount of schnitzel you are crumbing)
Dust the beef schnitzel meat lightly with seasoned flour then dip it in the egg wash. Drag this through breadcrumbs to coat and then allow to firm up in the fridge before cooking.
Cook off a piece at a time in sizzling oil and butter. Hold in a warm oven on a baking tray that you have lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil. This will also crisp up the crumbs.
Serve with lemon wedges, mustard, potato salad and/or coleslaw or stir fried vegetables as we did.
Deep fried icecream
4 scoops well frozen icecream
(your choice of flavour, ideally
without added bits)
2 eggs, beaten
1 packet of plain biscuits, crushed
(you could add chopped nuts
or crushed corn flakes)
oil for frying
(about 1 litre)
Put four perfectly round scoops in the deep freezer and allow to go hard (overnight is best).
Give them an egg wash once you remove it from the deep freezer.
Roll on the crushed biscuits and give them a nice coating.
Put them back in the freezer and allow them to go hard.
Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 two more times.
Heat the oil. Make sure it is hot: 180-190C. (see notes in safety section below)
Deep fry the icecream quickly for 5-8 seconds.
Make sure that the oil is very hot or the biscuit crumb won't get its colour.
How to limit fat intake when frying
The meal the year 12 boys have put together for this article has a shallow fried crumbed schnitzel.
Interestingly, battered food absorbs less fat than crumbed food and home- made breadcrumbs made from stale bread would absorb more fat than store-bought simply because of the surface area available to absorb fat.
The type of fat used needs to be looked at when considering the best healthy option. Olive oil has a lower frying temperature than some other vegetable oils so you have to fry for longer. This causes greater fat absorption, not to mention the change in flavour as some olive oils can overpower the food you are frying. Animal fats contain cholesterol. If you use 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then you will limit your fat intake to around 5-6 grams fat of the recommended daily amount of 16-22 grams.
You can also limit the fat intake by not leaving the food in for too long. The sizzle heard when putting food in is the reaction between the fat and the release of steam from the food as the water is instantly heated.
Once that dies away and you turn the food over the same thing happens. When that noise goes, check it either by cutting into the food or checking its temperature with a thermometer, then drain it on paper towels.
The deep-fried ice cream is one of those WOW factor foods that would go down well at a dinner party. When you do have it you will have to throw nutrition out the window and simply enjoy the moment.
Stir-fry chicken, vegetables and noodles are very popular for their convenience, flavour and nutrition.
Usually stir-fry meals have a small amount of meat, a portion of noodles or rice and lots of vegetables which are cooked in a minimal amount of oil and are constantly moved around. These are all very good for you.
Just as a little aside though, it may be worth thinking through the sauces that you are using to add flavour to your stir fries, as some of them are pretty high in sugar (the 10/10/6 rule suggests less than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product).
The store-purchased sauces on our shelf at school contained:
Sweet'n'sour has 22gof sugar per 100g of product,
Oyster sauce is between 22g and 35g per 100g.
Hoisin sauce is 29.5g per 100g, and
Black Bean sauce is the best at 11g per 100g.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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