why do they put oil in batter for batter fried foods?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by siduri, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. siduri

    siduri

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    This may be an idle question, but i always wondered why they put oil in a batter that will be used to deep fry foods.  It seems redundant to me - the food will take in some oil from the frying, even if minimum if you use a really good technique. 

    While I'm at it, i;ve tried many batters that either have baking powder or beaten egg whites, and my experience has always been that these batters, with all their air holes, function just like sponges, and soak up all the oil.  I keep a hot temp for the oil, fry a few things at a time, but never could really keep these batters from absorbing way too much oil.  When i make another kind of batter, they don;t come out greasy after frying, so i must be doing something right.

    thanks
     
  2. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    That's a good question but I don't know the answer.  Along the same lines I recently discovered a recipe for breaded chicken cutlet and the bread crumbs were made in a FP with crackers, a little garlic, and butter.  I thought to myself, why the butter in the breading if I'm just going to cook it in olive oil?  But I tried it and what do you know, best breaded chicken cutlet I ever made.
     
  3. highlander01

    highlander01

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    Oil in the batter instead of water to keep the moisture levels down and promote safer frying maybe?

    Other than that I'm not sure

    Maybe a difference in texture?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Posted by Highlander01  
    No to the first sentence, and first three words of the second.  Yes to the last three words of the second.

    Water, beer, and other watery liquids convert from liquid to steam, expand the crust, and make it puffy and light.  Oil goes for a tighter, richer crust.  It also keeps the crust closer to the food which is being battered; but that's better controlled by having the food dry before battering. 

    A typical egg batter which used to be frequently employed with sea food is egg, oil, (maybe a few herbs) and very little flour -- with a light flour or starch dredge before battering; usually pan fried or sauteed.  The resulting crust is rich, soft, holds the fish together, but is not at all crisp -- almost as though you've wrapped the fish in an omelet.  

    The style might be considered old fashioned; at least I'm not seeing it lately.  It used to be quite popular with thin fillets like trout and sole, or pounded shellfish like abalone. 

    BDL 
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    That type of info is worth its weight in gold to me BDL. Thanks so much for sharing. I don't know why I can't find a culinary book that has that type of info in it, rather than a list of recipes. 
     
     
  6. highlander01

    highlander01

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    I'm guessing your not finding it due to the fact that it would be considered insider trading or a trade secret  :)

    Or it could be something as simple as the professionals take it for granted that this is common knowledge and that anyone that cooks on a regular basis knows about it
     
  7. benway

    benway

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    I can't be sure but my initial thought was for improved heat transfer.

    Water boils at 212 degrees and not a degree higher.  Once the water becomes steam it can get hotter but its shortlived anyways as steam will escape and book it out of the oil in the form of bubbles. Fat however can get much hotter than that, hot enough to produce the Maillard reactions needed for browning.  It makes sense to me at least that having fat already in the batter displaces liquid that otherwise would be water allowing the batter to brown faster and maybe even a little more evenly due to more penetrating conduction.  Is that convincing anyone?
     
  8. siduri

    siduri

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    Interesting BDL, but fish wrapped in an omelette has about as much attraction for me as pickle cheesecake, so i'll stick to batter without oil!
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    Fuzzy logic. The batter that tasted like an omelet had oil in it, but that doesn't mean that oil makes batters taste like omelet. That particular batter also had egg (hint, hint....) and barely any starch. FWIW fish wrapped in omelette doesn't sound very attractive to me either. Neither does pickle cheesecake for that matter. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  10. phreon

    phreon

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    What you're saying is everyone knows it, it's a secret and therefore unshared OR everyone who knows it already knows it and therefore it's unshared.  Where in this description is the path from unknowing to knowing?

    Doug
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    Ouch. Now I have a headache. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    It's not a secret.  It's a texture.  Many things go unexplained because, it seems, it's assumed the cook who found the recipe knew what (s)he wanted.  That's why a few of us try to use technique explanations rather than simply provide recipes.  I.e., if you want "a," do "b;"  instead of, "to make 'Crapaud Parisienne,' follow this recipe."  

    Getting down to cases, this type of batter does not make an omelet wrapped fish.  "Omelet" was simile only.  The crust is is not an omelet; it's a rich, eggy, thin, batter coating which doesn't puff -- with just a little more substance than an egg wash; much as though you were doing a three stage breading (flour, egg, crumbs), but omitted the breadcrumbs.  You're not required to like it, but you probably would.    

    If I'm not mistaken, at one time this treatment was one of many, many things called "Frenching."  But the term is well before my time and I might very well be wrong.

    BDL
     
  13. french fries

    french fries

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    I wonder how you'd translate that in French? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    Anyway I hate that assumption that cooks just want to do one thing quickly. I feel like all the cookbooks out there are simply giving me fish, when I want to be taught to fish. 

    But thank god there's this forum, and people like you, Chris Lehrer, and a few others to help me go beyond my cookbook collection. Thanks again. 
     
  14. pohaku

    pohaku

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    Fish wrapped in omelet?  What's not to like?  Fish or meat, thinly sliced, seasoned and coated in egg and pan fried is a standard Korean food - called meat or fish Jun.  Commonly made with beef and fish.  Pork and chicken work well too.  Every Korean restaurant and take out place I've ever been in has it on the menu.  Easy to make at home.  My kids love it.  Of course, everyone has their own take on this.  Here's a pretty basic recipe, adjust as you see fit.

    Meat Jun

    2 lbs. sirloin or sirloin tip
    1/2 cup soy sauce (Yamasa is good and commonly available)
    2 Tbs sesame oil

    2 Tsp sesame seeds - roasted
    3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    4 eggs, beaten
    Flour

    Oil for frying

    Directions:
     

    Trim meat well and cut into thin wide slices (1/4 inch thick like for teriyaki).  Place in a bowl - add soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, green onion, and garlic, mix well.   Marinate for 1 hour.  Pour flour into a flat pan.  Dip marinated meat pieces in flour.  Transfer meat into beaten eggs.  Drip off excess.  Fry in pan at med-hi heat until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

    Sauce:

    1/2 cup soy sauce
    2 Tsp rice vinegar

    2 Tsp sugar
    2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 Tsp sesame seeds, roasted

    Chili pepper chopped (optional)
     
  15. chefhow

    chefhow

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    Stop buying cook books and start buying reference books and text on technique instead.  They dont give you nearly as many recipes but all the info to make the food you want to eat and how/why you have the out come when completed
     
  16. french fries

    french fries

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    Please, if you know of any good ones, that would contain the kind of info BDL just shared with us, let me know! I mean I have quite a few books on technique already, the best one being the following one: http://www.editions-bpi.fr/livres-pdf/cuisine/e1760-la-cuisine-de-référence-édition-complète.pdf (that pdf is just an extract, the book is 600 pages long or so...)  It's great at telling you exactly what to do, but only sometimes does it tell you why. For example it'll tell you not to use a whisk for a brown sauce because it incorporates too much air and lightens the color. That's the kind of info I love to have. 

    I hate, with a passion, any cookbook that makes statements, like "Never, ever chop cilantro too finely." or "always start potatoes in cold water." but doesn't tell you why. 

    Maybe I should get a book on food science instead? Anyway sorry to derail this thread. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  17. siduri

    siduri

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    Don't worry about derailing, FF, that's what's so nice about these forums. 

    My comment on omelette-wrapped fish was a joke, BDL (as i think you know) and Pohaku - though i don;t much like omelettes that are not creamy, and don't much like egg on my fish in general. ( I prefer cheese /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif ) (not to bring up THAT discussion again!)

    I agree with FF that an explanation is worth a hundred recipes.  For which we have some good explainers here.  I do read lots of cookbooks, and the good ones do explain things.  Yes to julia child, no to joy of cooking, (i rarely use joy of cooking, due to the lack of explanations).  Yes to the time life series for the most part, and to many other little-known cookbooks.  .  And if you tell me to start my potatoes in cold water, you'd dxxxn well better tell me why or i will never do it.  I never have that much time anyway, so I probably won't do it anyway, and will cut my potatoes up to make them cook faster.  (then the "insides" will be outside and will cook at the same time as the outside!) 

    Anyway, about the thin and crispy batter and the thicker and more dense batter, i have another question

    Why do some batter recipes call for beaten egg whites or baking powder, when my experience with these is that they create a spongelike texture for the batter which acts exactly like that, like a sponge, and gives me soggy and greasy fried food. 

    I use egg with a little water in it as a way to coat the food to protect it from absorbing fat (egg cooks quickly if it's thinly coating the food so, i presume, seals out the oil), and it also helps stick bread crumbs so they don;t fall off.  If i want the crust a little more substantial i use flour under the egg. 

    If i want a very thin crisp crust, i coat in thick greek yoghurt and then flour.  It tenderizes the food under it and makes a wonderful crispy crust that stays crispy.  If i want to make a nice thick batter that gets crisp, i mix egg and yoghurt and flour, and then roll in bread crumbs. 

    But while i get good results frying (and i don;t have a deep frier, just a frying pan - i put a good amount of oil in it and just fry a few things at a time, trying to keep the oil to a point of vigorously sizzling the food as it drops in but not burning) - i ALWAYS got lousy sodden results when adding any sort of bubble-making substance, beaten eggwhites or baking powder.  For me it's a recipe for disaster and I don't understand if i'm doing something wrong or it's the leavening itself that's wrong. 

    And again, the oil.  I still don't fully understand - tighter and richer crust, you say, BDL.  closer to the food you say.  Better done by drying the food first.  Yes, for sure.  Even flouring it, perhaps.  Richer crust?  maybe egg would be a richer crust.  I'm thinking of the sodden fish filets in that egg and oil omelette "crust" - not appealing.  But i;ve also seen oil in other eggless batters. 

    tell me more.  Why, why, WHY....
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I find it helps the crust stay on better and does not promote puffing. I also add a bit of cornstarch to all my fry batters . I have found the starch cooks right away and in my opinion retards the product from absorbing a lot of oil. . Drop a little starch slurry on a hot surfce and see what happens right away . Works for me.
     
  19. chefross

    chefross

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    Siduri......many recipes that call for beaten egg white or baking soda do come out quite crispy and puffy but after just a few minutes sitting time they go south. These types of fried things need to be eaten asap.
     
  20. chefhow

    chefhow

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    Is there an English version to what you posted?

    I have always found that Larouse's books are very good references as well as the CIA book.  Also look into Laverne Culinare, and the Johnson and Wales study guides.