Breaking out the deep-fryer… This weekends Asian inspired dinner showcases some great reasons why everyone should have a deep-fryer in their kitchen arsenal. When most people think of deep-fried foods they think it’s drenched in oil, super fatty, and bad for you. Though there are good reasons for this the concept of cooking submerged in oil also has benefits. The biggest of which is speed!
When I saw the recipe for flash-fried lamb in Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, I didn’t think much of it, other than it sounded interesting. I have a small confession… I don’t always read a recipe before I pick it to make it. Once we set out to make the lamb we discovered that after slicing it thinly and marinating it you cook it for 10 seconds in oil. No, not shallow in a sauté pan or a wok but deep, as in a deep-fryer or yes, you can make you wok a deep fryer. So though this recipe is super quick to make it does take both deep-frying and stir-frying. I found this easier to do by using both my deep-fryer and my wok.
When you’re looking to get something evenly cooked in a super short period of time deep frying is ideal. If I had to put the lamb in a sauté pan with a little oil and turn it at least once to brown not to mention evenly this would take A LOT more than 10 seconds. When you put the lamb into a pan, or any meat for that mater it takes time to come to temperature. This is why your meats often take a long time to see the maillard reaction (Where you see golden to dark brown coloring on the surface). However when you submerge it into oil that is already at say something like 350ºF and that oil is touching every surface of the meat at the same time you get an amazing color and flavor in no more than 10 seconds.
The issue most people have with deep-frying is fat. FAT IS BAD… or is it? More and more studies are coming out showing not only is fat NOT bad but it is actually good for you. That said like everything it’s about moderation. If you can accept that there are some fats that are ok or even good to use then it’s a matter of learning which to use. I only use grapeseed oil in all of my high temperature cooking. This is a great oil, both in terms of health and in flavor, it has a high smoke point which making it great for this application. Yes, it’s pricey but being that it’s a neutral flavor oil makes it incredibly versatile.
The next issue with deep-frying is the safety risk. Super hot oil has a danger factor. I’ll be honest. If I saw a recipe for something that needed to be cooked in a big vat of oil I would skip the recipe. The biggest reason of which being the splattering. It seems like my entire stove top would be covered in oil by the time I was through, oh, and the ordeal of trying to keep the oil at a specific temperature was a nightmare. That’s when I discovered the Breville Smart Fryer. Though the power cord is a bit finicky the machine itself is awesome. It’s easy to set the temperature that you want. It holds the temperature with easy. When the food is submerged it may steam and “boil” but it doesn’t splatter and spurt. I have come to love my deep fryer. From fish ‘n’ chips, to falafel, and now to flash-fried Asian cuisine this is a tool I use often.
FOR THE FLASH FRIED LAMB:
- 14 grams Grapeseed Oil
- 14 grams Dark Soy Sauce
- 14 grams Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Tapioca Starch
- 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Ground White Pepper
- 1 pound Lamb, your choice of cut, sliced into ⅛ inch thick pieces
- 1 large Leek, slice thinly
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 6 slices Fresh Ginger, super thin
- Dried Red Chiles, quantity is person preference (I like 2)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Fresh Cilantro
In a medium bowl combine the oil, soy sauces, tapioca starch, sugar, cumin, and pepper. Whisk together until smooth. Add the lamb and toss to coat well. Let sit and marinade for at least 20 minutes.
Prepare the leek, garlic, ginger, and pepper.
Bring the deep-fryer to 350ºF. (If you are not doing this in a deep fryer you can do this in a deep pan with a thermometer as well.)
Preheat your wok.
Raise the basket out of the oil and add the lamb. Lower the basket into the oil and with a long wooden spoon move the lamb around for about 10 seconds. Raise the basket letting the excess oil drain off.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot wok along with the garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant no more than 30 seconds. Add the lamb and the leeks. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chili and salt. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Remove from the wok and garnish with cilantro.
FOR THE SICHUAN FRIED WILD MUSHROOMS:
- 12 ounces Mushrooms, try to get at least three varieties
- 68 grams Cake Flour
- 80 grams Tapioca Starch
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 12 fl ounces Ice Cold Water
- 1 Large Egg White
- Chopped Scallions
- Chopped Cilantro
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, starch, salt and water. This will be VERY thin. In a separate bowl whip the egg white to soft peaks, then fold into the flour mixture. Add the mushrooms and toss well.
With your deep fryer at 350ºF add your mushrooms in 4 batches. Fry for 3 minutes. About halfway through try to break up any large clumps with a wooden spoon and flip the mushrooms. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, cilantro, and scallions.
In the end although I modified some of the recipe Kian Lam Kho nocked these recipes out of the park. They were amazing both in flavor and in texture. These are recipes that will be made again for sure!