Why we got rid of our deep fryer

So, you all came here today expecting a recipe to follow on from my Deep frying post yesterday. Well I’m sorry to disappoint, but as we got rid of our Deep Fryer years ago, I don’t have any way of preparing and photographing a dish, even if I wanted to. That’s not strictly true, I could use the cooker top method. However, it’s difficult to control the oil temperature as well as being dangerous and to be honest it’s not something I’m really comfortable with, so I’ve decided instead to tell you about why we got rid of our deep fryer.

Fish and chips, a popular take-away food of th...
Image via Wikipedia

The short version of this story is because I was morbidly obese and deep frying was one of the reasons that I had become (and remained) that way. The long version goes a bit more like this…

When we first got our deep fryer it was a fabulous tool – every so often, we’d have chips with our dinner or onion rings or some battered fish etc. This is back in the days when I was first starting to cook “properly” from scratch. It was really handy just to be able to fire something in there to go with whatever I was cooking from scratch.

That was part of the problem though, it was too easy, too convenient. What’s for dinner tonight? Fish and chips? Chicken, chips and onion rings? Steak and chips? you get the idea and what was even worse was that we were using frozen chips, onion rings etc. We weren’t even cutting our own potatoes not to mention cooking from scratch for more than half our meal but that was OK cause at least we were cooking something from scratch!?

In truth, that would be fine if we were only doing it occasionally, but it started to become multiple times a week. All because of the convenience and the easy excuse “I’m too tired to cook after a long day in the office”. And then there was the smell of chipper throughout our entire home. It became easy to use the same excuse to leave the cleaning of the fryer and changing of the oil until the weekend.

Eventually we came to our senses and we said that we would put the fryer away in the back of one of the cupboards and try to eat “proper food” for 2 weeks. Thankfully, about 6 months later we discovered the fryer in the back of the same press and it wasn’t a pretty reunion, as soon as I lifted the lid and got the smell from inside I gagged and I knew deep fried food had returned to it’s proper place in my diet as a treat every once in a while.

Have I ever regretted it? On occasions, when I see a nice piece of cod in the fish monger or when we visited Fifteen Amsterdam on holidays and tasted deep fried Zucchini for the first time, oh and that time experimenting with Gnocchi before service in a restaurant kitchen and someone threw the little pillows of heaven in and crisped the outside, they were divine!

Overall though I don’t regret getting rid of our deep fryer, we both lost weight and are healthier as a result :)

Deep-Frying

Deep frying
Image via Wikipedia

Deep-frying is the process where food is immersed in hot oil or fat to be cooked. Food can be partly cooked in advance and then finished just before being served.

To partially cook food you immerse it in the preheated (to 160C-175C) fat or oil until softened and not coloured.

To fully cook food you immerse it in the preheated (to 170C-190C) fat or oil until cooked through and crisp on the outside.

While it is relatively easy to deep fry food with the correct tools (basket or spider), there are a number of things to be concerned about, first you are cooking in either fat or oil, so it’s important to remove as much of this as possible after cooking. The most common way is by shaking as much off the food as possible as soon as it is removed from the cooker and then rested on clean kitchen paper to absorb more of the oil.

It’s important to have the correct amount of fat or oil for the food you wish to cook and this should be changed regularly to avoid the build up of hydrogenated fats (a.k.a. bad stuff). It’s also vitally important to remove as much excess moisture as possible from the food before frying to prevent accidents.

In most cases a specific deep fat fryer should be used, however you could use a large saucepan. I would strongly recommend that if you are going to deep fry then use a dedicated deep fat fryer as this will have its own temperature controls and is far less likely to go on fire than any cooker top method of deep-frying. That said it’s always a good idea to have a fire-blanket and an appropriate fire extinguisher handy as well as knowing how to use them!

Are you a food tourist?

I have no problem in admitting that a fair chunk of my decision-making process, when it comes to a place to visit on holiday, has to do with the food that is on offer. As an example, our recent holiday took in both Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Deepfried Zuchini Flower, Buffalo Mozz, Salad of Faro and Pea Shoots
Deepfried Zuchini Flower, Buffalo Mozz, Salad of Faro and Pea Shoots

Amsterdam is a city that both myself and Elly love, we got engaged there and have had some fantastic breaks there over the years. Every time we visit, we seem to find more and more things to do. Not least of these is the food. On our recent trip we ate in all sorts of locations, Restaurants, Cafes, street vendors you name it. we sampled cuisines as diverse as Argentine, Italian, Greek, French, Egyptian, euro organic and Chinese. I really couldn’t say a bad word about the food or the service we received in any of these places. Prices were reasonable and reflected the meals served very well.

Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola
Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola

We did have one negative experience on the morning we decided to get breakfast in a touristy cafe, you know the type of place big menu with everything from an English breakfast through to pancakes and waffles. We sat for 10 minutes while staff member after staff member walked passed ignoring us until we got up, pushed our way past the staff blocking the exit (while having a chat) and went across the street and had breakfast elsewhere. The service staff really didn’t care about their customers at all, they didn’t even apologise or bother to ask why we were leaving, I almost went back to look for the manager, but I was on holiday so why bother with the stress and frustration, the staff have to take their lead from somewhere, right?

Perfectly rare steak
Perfectly rare steak

Copenhagen was chosen as a destination because Primus, a band that I have been a fan of most of my life, were playing their first European tour in over a decade and we missed out on the tickets for the Amsterdam gig as they sold out in minutes. Apart from that, the “best restaurant in the world” Nemo is located there, so there has to be a knock-on effect on all the restaurants in the city, right?

Maybe it was the lack of familiarity with the city but we didn’t find it as easy to locate restaurants as we do in Amsterdam, with a notable exception of a fantastic little cafe/restaurant we stumbled on, which was filled with organic, vegetarian and vegan foods as well as meat dishes for us omnivores. What really made this place for me, was that  you could see pots of fresh herbs growing all over the place and a lot of the vegetables were actually grown within walking distance and were literally harvested to order for whatever dish was being prepared.

For Food's sake logo

Ireland has a fantastic reputation abroad as a food producer, particularly so when it comes to artisan products, but would you describe Ireland as a destination for a food tourist? Could we eat our way out of the current “trouble”?

This is the question being posed to the panel at “For Food’s Sake III”, a regular bi-monthly evening of food talk and tastings. I’ve missed the previous events but will be there with bells on this time and I’m really looking forward to an interesting discussion about this large and growing part of the tourism and food industries in this country.

The event is taking place in The Sugar Club this Thursday 28 July at 7 pm and full details can be found here. I’ll be there barring any disasters, so please feel free to say hello if you decide to come along.

Recipe: Honey and Soy Grilled Rainbow Trout

Honey and Soy Grilled Rainbow Trout
Honey and Soy Grilled Rainbow Trout

Ingredients;

3 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
4 Tablespoons Honey
4 Tablespoons White wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoons water
2 x Rainbow Trout Fillets

Serves 2


For an island nation we eat a pathetically small amount of fish and most of what we do eat comes from the frozen food aisle in the supermarket. This recipe is very easy to prepare and cook, it’s quicker and tastier than a lot of those frozen options, so give it a go!

To make the marinade/sauce just mix the soy sauce, honey, white wine vinegar and water together.

Place the trout fillets skin side down in a container just big enough to them fit them flat and side by side, then pour on the marinade mixture, making sure the fish are completely covered and leave to marinade for at least twenty minutes. Don’t add all the honey soy mixture as you’ll want to keep some to use as a sauce/dip.

While the fish are marinating, turn your grill on to its highest setting and allow it to warm up. Then prepare a grill tray for the fish. You want a flat grill tray with raised sides, the height of the fish should be fine but you want the base to be as close as possible to the size of your fillets. If your tray is larger than you can make a smaller tray to sit inside your regular grill tray from tin foil.

Once the fish have marinated for at least 20 minutes remove them from the marinade and place them in your grill tray, then pour the marinate over the fish so that it coats them but only comes about half way up the fillets. Next, put it under the grill for about 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness, until cooked through.

In the picture above I have served the fish on a braised rice pilaf made like this recipe with a finely chopped stalk of lemongrass added instead of the turmeric, this gives a wonderful delicate lemon flavour that complements the fish. I then poured some of the sauce over the fish before sprinkling some chopped spring onion on top and garnishing with a lime. Nyomtastic :)

Grilling

Grilled Asian Shortribs
Image by Another Pint Please... via Flickr

Grilling is a great way to cook small quantities of food by radiant heat. There are 3 types of grilling, grilling with heat from below (e.g. the barbecue); grilling with heat from above, what our friends across the pond in the U.S. call broiling (e.g. the grill in your kitchen); and grilling “toaster” style between heated bars or plates (e.g. the George Foreman-style grills).

Essentially the food is cooked on top, below or between the heat source(s). With the exception of the “toaster” style of grilling the food is visible and this makes it easy to see when the food is cooked. Any excess fat is usually lost in the grilling process which makes it healthier and it’s usually quick to adjust the heat level while cooking as well as get a good colour and crisp finish.

It’s important to prepare your grill well before beginning to cook on it, making sure to clean them regularly and remove fat and grease to prevent it starting a fire.