Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Frying Myths busted with Crispy Calamari!!!

People who have been a part of Zouqh for a while now, know how much I despise deep frying. It’s very little to do with calorie consumption, but more to do with the mess u are left behind to clean and the oil that has to be very cleverly re-used.  I try finding out ways to avoid using a wok full of oil. Being a Bong, everyone assumes that we just eat deep fried veggies, but really guys, there are other ways of cooking too in our culture... Bhaja isn’t the only option left for a vegetarian in a bong household!!

First let me burst some myths regarding deep frying:

  •             Myth: “It’s quite calorific and unhealthy.” Well good news, if you follow the steps right like; heat the oil to a hot temperature, where the food gets cooked in the residual heat from the oil; and use a heavy duty absorption paper to take out the excess oil from your fry, then it isn’t so bad. But obviously, this doesn’t mean you include a fried item in your diet daily. Eat it like a treat, once a week or so and cook it in the comfort of your own kitchen. The oil used outside should be avoided at any cost.
  •          Myth: “the oil once used to deep frying, should not be used again as it loses its nutrients..” Really?? Please count to me the nutrients present in vegetable oil.. Something that is already devoid of nutrients, can’t really affect you too much. Also, please note, you are supposed to use only vegetable oil for frying. Not mustard, sesame or olive oils and certainly not extra virgin olive oil. These oils have a lot of characteristics, which when overcooked, can be injurious to health and wallet!!
  •          Myth: “deep frying helps concentrate flavour of the food...” In one simple word, NO, it doesn’t. If you are making a veggie curry, sauté the vegetables in a spoon of oil, and u will get exactly the same flavour profile. Deep frying means letting your food go deep in the oil to fry and cook, almost like boiling in oil. You don’t need that, but a gentle sauté/ or grill to concentrate the flavours of meat and veggies, before adding it to a gravy.
  •          Eat responsibly!!! Yup, damn important... Deep fried food should not be a part of your daily diet; neither should you eat it, paired with alcohol. Try to indulge in grills if you are having an alcoholic beverage, and in between drinks, take a couple of sips of water, and then have that beautifully fried starter, which has been chanting your name since you came to the party. Finish it before reaching out for your second drink. I know, too much of dos and don’ts, but I have a habit to jot it down for you! At least now, you know!! :)

Having given the whole lecture about frying and deep frying, here is my version of a beautifully classic dish, Crispy Calamari!! I fail to understand Italians, the maker of this dish. They use bread crumbs in all sorts of fillings, but don’t use it to coat their meats before frying?!@#$#@!!! It is such a shame! But thanks to globalization, and now easily available panko bread crumbs (Japanese), these beauties get a whole new, global and crispy makeover!! Read on for the complete recipe:

 2 squid/calamari tubes cut in ½ to ¼ inch thick rings
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp garlic paste
Panko bread crumbs to coat (I had it so I used it.. if you can’t find it in your store, then by all means use normal dry bread crumbs or even fresh bread crumbs, made from blitzing a couple of slices of bread in a food processor.)
Vegetable Oil for deep frying

Wash and pat dry the squid rings. Try to take out as much water as possible.

Now preheat a wok on your burner, with a couple of inches worth of your choice of vegetable oil. Let it heat up gently on a medium flame, till you are done with prepping your squids.

In a clean bowl, add in the squid rings and mix it thoroughly with salt, pepper and garlic paste. Now portion the squids out, depending on the size of your wok. Frying them in small batches of 5 to 6 rings will ensure even browning, without affecting the temperature of the oil.

Take the first portion into a ziplock bag, and add a couple of tbsp of bread crumbs to it. Release any air from the bag and shake it vigorously to coat the rings evenly. The first time will give you a fair idea of how much bread crumbs will be required for the subsequent batches of squids rings. Limit wastage as much as possible!!

By now, the oil should have come to temperature. Drop in a piece of bread to test it. If the bread sizzles and browns off in a couple of seconds, then the oil is ready to be frying. If it turns black within a second, the oil is overheated and you should remove it from heat immediately.

Once satisfied with the temperature, put in the squid rings slowly in the hot oil. Try to keep a wok-cover handy, in case the fish splutters about the hot oil. If you cover your wok, keep a bit of the wok uncovered on the side, away from you. Do not fully cover the wok in any case.

Fresh out of the wok & resting on kitchen counter!!

The squids should be perfectly browned in a couple of minutes. Take it out immediately and drain off the excess oil on a kitchen towel.

A delicious snack ready to be savoured with a spritz of lemon juice on top!! 

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