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Mar 19, 2017
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Frying something is one of the most underestimated activities in the kitchen.

What could be so complicated about it, you ask, along with thousands of other Pinoy males.  You put some oil in a random pan. Apply heat using either electricity or gas. Toss raw food in said pan. Wait until food is brown. Eat.

Unfortunately, amateur cook, it’s not that simple. In the first place, you got steps one and two mixed up. The fat will heat up faster if you put it in an already hot pan or pot.  “Most accidents occur when you do not understand the science of frying,” says Allen Buhay, the chef behind Wildflour Café + Bakery’s mouth-watering offerings.

First, you must learn what happens when you fry something. Chef Allen explains: “Frying with hot oil is basically dehydrating liquid from the things that you are frying. The bubbles coming out of the fryer are water molecules that evaporate. They convert to gas molecules that float. If you keep food in the fryer long enough, the bubbles will disappear, which means all liquid has been evaporated from it.”

And that means you are done frying. Not knowing this, sometimes people take out their food from the fryer before the liquid is completely dehydrated from it. That results in fried food not being completely crispy—or cooked.

The other thing that many people don’t recognize is the importance of temperature in frying. “Frying while the oil is still cold is one of the biggest mistakes people make [while cooking],” says Chef Allen. “All that will do is make cooking time longer; it will also make your food greasy and soggy.”

That’s why it’s wise to invest not only in good-quality pots and pans, but also in a kitchen thermometer. We’ll share the ideal cooking temperature with you in a bit.

Another reason that fried food doesn’t come out looking and tasting like the real thing (you know, like in fast food TV commercials) is that the food is cooked while it is still wet from the freezer. Remember this: Damp raw food never becomes crispy fried food. Before prepping your food for frying, pat it down with paper towels to dry it. Now that we’ve established your frying mistakes, let us enlighten you on the right way to do it. Start the fire now!

PRITO FOOD #1: Crispy Fried Chicken

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INGREDIENTS

Six pieces chicken
Two tbsps. calamansi
Three tbsps. soy sauce
Five egg whites
One cup vegetable oil
One tsp. garlic powder
Two cups cornstarch
Salt and pepper, to taste

RECIPE

1) Mix calamansi and soy sauce. Marinate chicken in the mixture for at least two hours.

2) When chicken is ready, combine all the other ingredients except the cornstarch. Coat each chicken piece with the mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

3) Drain excess oil, then coat each piece with cornstarch.

4) Deep-fry in a deep pot at 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.

PRITO FOOD #2: Boneless Bangus Goodness

INGREDIENTS

One piece deboned bangus, cut daing style
Eight cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup cane vinegar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup oil 

RECIPE

1) Combine garlic, vinegar, and salt in a shallow plate.

2) Put bangus skinside up on the plate so that the vinegar mixture covers the fish meat. Cover and leave for 12 hours.

3) When fish is ready, heat oil in a shallow pan to 350-375 degrees.

4) Fry fish on both sides, turning when one side has browned slightly. Cover the pan, leaving a small opening for steam to escape. Oil tends to splatter because of the liquid from the marinade.

PRITO FOOD #3: Deep-Fried Pork Chop

INGREDIENTS

¾-1”-thick pork chops
(4-5 pieces) four egg whites
One cup vegetable oil
One tsp. smoked paprika
One tsp. garlic powder
Two cups cornstarch
Cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, to taste

RECIPE

1) Combine all ingredients except the cornstarch. Whisk briefly to incorporate.

2) Marinate the pork chops in the mixture; preferably in a Ziplock bag, but a bowl is fine. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. (The egg whites are a natural meat tenderizer.) This process is called velveting, a Chinese cooking technique.

3) When done marinating, drain excess oil then dredge in cornstarch, shaking off excess cornstarch.

4) Deep-fry at 375 degrees for seven to ten minutes or until desired doneness.

FRYING WISDOM #1:

“Invest in a thermometer. Food fried at certain temperatures— 350-375 degrees— usually come out best and less greasy,” says Chef Allen.

FRYING WISDOM #2:

According to Chef Allen: “For the most part, heavy-bottom pots are best for deep-frying at home. Try le creuseat [cookware]; those are some OF The best TO use FOR deep-frying.” Heavybottom pots distribute heat more evenly.

FRYING WISDOM #3:

To make the perfect scrambled eggs, heat oil to medium-high heat; turn it down to low once you put the eggs in. This will keep the eggs creamy and not stiff.

Photography Jonathan Baldonado

This feature originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of FHM Philippines.

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