frying huge quantities of onion- HELP

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by alissasobo, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. alissasobo

    alissasobo

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    hey guys,

    well, it says don't post if you are not a professional chef, but in my case i don't really know what my classification is. heres a super brief explanation of the big-picture task i have taken on: i am 24, just graduated, opening up an high-end indian food truck in arcata, ca at the end of august. yes i am insane, but its happening so no one talk me out of it or berate me. been cooking my whole life, cook some damn great indian food, but never sized up as much as i have to now. I REALLY NEED SOME GUIDANCE. and... i guess since i own a restaurant i am now professional enough to post here. i need help from some real pros though.

    i am basically teaching myself how to size up my curry recipes. the biggest barrier i think is getting such large amounts of onions to fry properly. obviously pan surface area is of big concern. most of my curries go pretty much like this...

    1. fry whole spices breifly

    2. add onions and brown

    3. add ginger garlic paste and fry

    4. add more spices

    5. add water, cream, coconut milk, etc

    6. stew for an hour or so

    the thing is, i really dont want my onions to get that steamed translucent thing going on. i want them to be "carmelized" i suppose would be the term for it. 

    is it just a matter of getting a really wide pan, more like a brazier or something? can i add more oil to a less wide/more deep pot? is it a lost cause to think i could size up so much? should i just batch it all?

    AHHHHH can someone just school me on frying onions in a scaled up setting??
     
  2. durangojo

    durangojo

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    maybe roasting them would be easier on you if you have an oven available,as you can do large amounts and don't have to watch them as much...will think on it some more, but its beddy bye time for this cowgirl...

    joey
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  3. cheesenbacon

    cheesenbacon

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    I'd sweat them out a little bit..... pull it and set it aside.  Par cookin' baby!

    Add it per order as you need it.  You can BARELY cook them and still get what you want out of it.

    I don't know shit about Indian food, but techniques never change.  You have to control your temps and textures though.

    Stab in the dark man. 

    Give it 14 hours and the old skoolers will be all over this one.  I just don't know anything about that cuisine.

    I've cooked enough onions though.  Just don't cover them and let them steam and sweat when they're done searing.  Should be fine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  4. left4bread

    left4bread

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    I'd caramelize the onions in a brazier, cool them, and use them as a separate ingredient.

    more like:

    1. caramelize onions, cool, save for later

    2. fry whole spices briefly

    3. add ginger garlic paste and fry

    4. add pre-caramelized onions

    5. add more spices

    6. add water, cream, coconut milk, etc

    7. stew for an hour or so

    My cooking experience regarding Indian food is pretty limited, but that kinda makes sense to me as a 'cook'.

    That is to say, this is what I would do for lack of a better idea.

    As cheeseNbacon said: "Give it 14 hours and the old skoolers will be all over this one."...

    ...and make me sorry for opining...  haha!
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    (PRE COOK) I would just take plain onion and put them in a large heavy black roasting pan. Start them on top of stove covering all 4 burners then finish in oven . then start a second pan if you add a tiny amount of granulated sugar , they will carmelize faster.
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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        You have great spirit my friend.  :)  You can do it in a large pan.  It's not a problem.  It will take longer that's all.

    Maybe a giant kadai.  In anycase, you can shorten the spice roasting process by doing them in a separate kadai.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  7. titomike

    titomike

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    What's left...?

    No oven....still pan in batches and finish in the big pot 'with a little sugar'...the woks with handles are pretty good.

    Quickest....would be a in a fryer on 140(C) the way crispy onions get done only you just be pre-cooking to speed up a system. Ultimately you want them to caramelise mostly in the curry, don't you?
     
  8. durangojo

    durangojo

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    sounds like you may be doing the lions share of the cooking yourself for this truck. if you are using a food purveyor you can purchase frozen, roasted onions, if it doesn't go against your grain to use a pre made product. i use them when i do large catered parties( like fajitas for 100), and its actually a really good product...'roastworks' brand. onions are easy, but if they are a big part of your everyday repetoire, sometimes it gets old to be constantly slicing and cooking...but they don't take much and you can multi task......good luck to you..i love indian food..curries, samosas...yum...wish i had some now. shroomgirl is caterer extraordinaire...she probably has some good working ideas as well as the ones above..guess you have to figure out your space and time...do you want to be cooking onions at 3 in the morning for the next day?...funny, cheesenbacon about the old schoolers...gotta love their 2 cents though!...good day all

    joey
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    For Indian cooking the onions are an essential part of the sauce.  There are no shortcuts.  The onions have to be cooked properly, the spices roasted perfect, etc.  I'm not sure premade product will cut it.

    The labor is not really in cooking the onions, the labor is in peeling and dicing them. 
     
  10. alissasobo

    alissasobo

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    kuan- you are right about the labor being in the prep of the onions! 

    the comment that it's important for the onions to fry in the oil which eventually BECOMES the oil of the curry is right also. thats why i think that i couldnt do some in the deep fryer. ALSO it is kind of important the order that everything happens in these curries with the roasting/frying of spices. 

    thats also why i am a little bit worried about frying them in big batches ahead of time also, but honestly i think that the flavor of the pre-fried onions/oil will indeed be able to seep into the new spice oil enough to get the job done right.

    this oven idea is interesting...  would someone link me to a picture of the exact pan they would suggest using to cover all the burners then put in the oven? im a bit of a novice here. what temp should the oven be??

    i think my problem right now is that i dont have my trailer with a big 6 burner stove yet because its still being manufactured. when i use a really wide pan my on regular at-home stove to practice this stuff, i don't think is getting these large pans hot enough to actually fry. could this be true??? is this totally obvious? lol. do i need to go find myself a giant flame for these large pans to be frying these onions???

    i am such a perfectionist with my food that i am considering making a bunch of small batches instead because that way i KNOW it will be awesome. seeing as how 60K is banking on this plan working...

    my GUESS is that the best vessel for frying all these onions stove top is the widest, flatest pan i can find and getting that guy really really hot. can anyone tell me what temperature the oil should be at before i put in onion.

    are there like depth of oil to side heighth of pan to weight of chopped onion formulas for frying onions correctly???? 

    i think culinary school could have really helped me in this respect..... that chemistry degree isnt really helping much with my onion frying dilemma. 

    thanks guys for beginning to talk me down from the ledge. 
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  11. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    See if they could replace one burner wit[​IMG] a unit

    like this, Or see if part of the stove top could be reconfigured with something like this

    I have  a 55gal Crab/corn cooker that I can boil water in no time at all. The burner called BIG BERTHA

    hits the bottom of the barrel and spreads to the edges and beyond...........where there's a will, there's  a way....................ChefBillyB
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  12. greg

    greg

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    http://www.webstaurantstore.com/24-x-18-x-4-deep-roasting-pan-bottom/92268362.html

    This is probably what Ed was referring to. Also called a roasting plaque or a GI pan.

    If you've got about $9000 laying around, get a tilt skillet.
     
  13. left4bread

    left4bread

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    My familiarity with cooking Indian food is VERY limited so forgive me if I'm way off base, but are you really trying to FRY the onions, or CARAMELIZE them? 

    My original response was for caramelized onions, not fried.  Sorry if I was confused.

    I like to deep fry at 365 or so...  You need to be conscious of recovery times though; the amount of food added to the hot oil and the time it will take the heat source to bring the temp of the oil back up to 365 (or w/e) once the cold food is added.   

    And if you could fit a tilt-skillet in your truck you'd be set!  I'm guessing space is kinda limited though...  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Anyhow, you got a few ideas and I'm sure you are testing testing testing.  Let us know how it turns out.  Or if you got more questions: shoot!  Sometimes it helps just to soundboard.
     
     
  14. chefedb

    chefedb

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    No I meant a large black roasting pan . You could use a GI pan but onions will take longer to brown. You could also deep fry onions half the way and either in oven or on burners. This would be quicker.
     
  15. titomike

    titomike

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    We've been rolling curries as a lunch special including a scaled-up tweak of Madhur Jaffray's Rogan Josh. Consequently, we brown the meat in the deep fryer as it gets the job done in a more timely fashion, the juices release while resting in reserve. Imho, this way is more efficient with a better result for floured meat rather than small batches tossed in a pot...