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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Tastier food

Monday, October 15, 2001(The Star)By CHIA JOO SUANNOT all oils are suited for cooking. Each has its own properties. Someprecautions are also required to retain the quality of cooking oil, moreso to reduce the greasy mess in the kitchen.As an ingredient, fat or oil is important in food preparation because itimparts palatability and consistency to foods. Fatty food provides the “oommph” in taste.Best oil for cookingButter cookies are crispier and tastier. Koay teow fried with animal fatsuch as lard has a special flavour that other oils just don’t impart.These are the common features of animal fats.For frying, animal fat, especially lard, is most suitable. This fattolerates high temperatures without breaking down. On the other hand,animal fats contain highly saturated fat, and because of health andreligious reasons, most people don’t use it anymore.Should you object to the use of animal fat, monounsaturated olive oil is agood alternative. This oil can tolerate high temperatures without breakingdown and keeps the kitchen less greasy. Unfortunately, it is veryexpensive.Palm and peanut oils are good substitutes. Nevertheless these alternativeshave higher saturated fat content than olive oil. However, all arecholesterol free. Palm oil also contains vitamin E which slows the ageingprocess. Red palm oil is a rich source of beta-carotene, an antioxidantwhich fights cancer.Sunflower, corn and soybean oils are polyunsaturated cholesterol-freeoils. These oils cannot tolerate high frying temperatures. They break downduring cooking and produce a greasy mess around the cooking area.These oils are suitable for low temperature cooking or for use as saladdressings.Less greasy foodTo reduce the amount of oil absorbed into food during deep frying, oilmust be heated to cooking temperature. Food cooked at too low atemperature will be greasy. If there is too much food cooking in the oil,the cooking temperature will be lowered and the food will become greasytoo. To minimise this problem, add food to the oil in small portions andlet the oil heat up between batches.You can check oil temperature by the simple traditional way. Place a smallpiece of food to be cooked into the oil – it is hot enough when bubblesform all around the morsel of food. Otherwise use a thermometer and cookat 190°C (375°F) if you are using a deep fryer.A wok is useful cookware. The unique shape of the wok enables cooking withless oil than a flat frying pan.Reuse of oilUsed oil retains food particles or seasoning which affect its flavour andquality. The more times you use the oil, the more slowly it can be poured.Its viscosity changes because of changes to the oil’s molecular structure.If the oil is to be reused, let it cool until it is safe to handle. Thenstrain it with a paper towel, coffee filter or cheesecloth.Do not mix it with unused oil. The filtered oil should then be kept in atightly sealed container and placed in a cool, dark place to prevent itfrom becoming rancid.Used oil may cloud in the refrigerator, but it should become clear againat room temperature with no ill effects.Smoke pointThe temperature when the oil begins to decompose and visible fumes orsmoke are given off is the smoke point of oil. Oils with high smoke pointsare from safflower and sunflower. Olive and sesame oil have low smokepoints.Oils with higher smoke points can be reused three to four times in deepfrying. As for other oils, it is better not to use them more than threetimes. You can combine oils of high and low smoke point to reduce thecost. A mixture of palm and sunflower oil is a good choice.Signs of deteriorated oilOil darkens with use because the oil and food molecules burn due to heat.When oil begins to breakdown, acreolein, a smelly compound, is formed. Itgives a rancid taste to food.Other signs of deterioration include foaming, darkening or smokingexcessively when the oil is slightly heated.When the oil is no longer useable, the oil itself may start to smellrancid or fails to bubble when food is added to hot oil. This indicatesthat the oil must be discarded!If you are using a deep fryer, when smoke appears on the oil surfacebefore the temperature reaches 190°C (375°F), your oil will no longerdeep-fry effectively.Prolong oil lifeThe longer the oil is heated, the more quickly it will decompose. Avoidpreheating the oil longer than necessary.If you are cooking more than one batch of food, quickly add in each newbatch. Turn off the heat as soon as the cooking is completed. Cool andkeep the oil in a cool dark place to prevent oxidation.Avoiding adding salt to food before deep-frying is another good way toretain the cooking property of the oil. The salt draws moisture to thefood surface, which will splatter when the food is put into the hot oil.Salt also lowers the smoke point and breaks down the oil more quickly. Insome traditional cooking practices, a pinch of salt is added to the oil inshallow frying of fish. Salt breaks down the oil and prevents oilsplatter.Oil handled with care will cook safer and yield tastier food!

Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
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