clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Big fan of this NYT article on (deep-)frying at home. (They never use the word "deep" for reasons that are unclear to me, other than that they are pussies.) It makes a lot of good points, and while Miss Clap has banned deep fryers from the home, maybe this will talk her into it.

That said, I do have a few objections. First of all is the complaint about old oil. There's no denying that really old oil imparts even the freshest dish with a burnt flavor, and I can't deny that there's a certain very specific appeal to the first thing to come out of a fresh pot of oil--it tends to have a super-light, almost bready quality--but the simple fact is, you get your most robust frying flavors from middle-aged oil, and for that reason I strongly support saving old oil. Look at the food pictured in the article--you can tell it's done with too-fresh oil, because it looks flaccid, unfinished, thin-skinned. Those sweet potato fritters look barely singed, the fish flaky and clear rather than crispy. This is not good. While you do, of course, want to filter your oil after every use, the simple fact is that you'll get a much better dynamic contrast (so to speak) with an oil that's been around the block a few times. Your exteriors will be crispier and it will be far better at sealing in everything. The valuation of new oil is for people who don't really like frying, I think; you get much better browning with mid-period oils. That said, the point at the end about flavors getting in the oil is well-taken, and you want to apply the same philosophy to saving oil that you do to cast-iron frying pans: you want to flavor them consistently. So you might have one fish jar, one chicken jar, one veggie jar, etc. And then cook some french fries in the fish oil--mmm!

The other objection I had was to the use of oils. Really, olive oil is fine, but there's simply no beating corn oil 90% of the time. Plus it's cheap. I'm interested to try grapeseed, but I dunno, corn oil loves me and I love it back. But this is only among the vegetable oils. Where's the mention of lard? And it didn't even get into bacon fat. Hmpf.

That said, the Indian fish recipe does sound delicious, and I wouldn't mind doing some beer-batter fish as well sometime.