Imagine warm food with a crispy brown layer, with the inside still moist and soft. The taste is delicious and difficult to resist.
The most popular fried foods that we often enjoy are french fries, onion rings, fish and chips, and various other traditional fried foods from various countries.
French Fries are always better than boiled potatoes. Of course! But why did it happen? There is a scientific reason why fried food tastes so good and behind the taste is hidden bad impact on health.
Some people, including me, argue that home-made fried food can be healthier than fried food served in restaurants. Is that true? Then what exactly causes fried food can be bad for health. Let's discuss it.
Fat on Oil and Temperature Affects Food Taste
The cooking process using the "frying" method requires oil that reaches up to almost twice the boiling temperature.
Frying is also referred to as cooking food in hot fat for the process of transferring heat into cooking. The heat transfer in several methods using oil is basically the same; a little fat for "sauteing"; some fat comes on the side of food for "shallow-frying"; or fat completely coats the surface of the food in the "deep-frying" method.
Dehydration occurs on the surface of food when food is added to hot oil which is usually 350 degrees F to 375 degrees F. Fast and thorough browning occurs because hot liquid fat transfers heat to the smallest gap on the surface. Because the surface of the food is dehydrated, crusts form which inhibit further absorption of oil by continuing to deliver heat to the inside of the food. This is why it is important to maintain the temperature of the oil when frying.
If the oil temperature drops too low, the crust forms slowly and the food absorbs more fat in the oil so the food becomes greasy. Conversely, if the oil temperature is too high and the oil becomes too hot food will burn on the surface but the inside is not ripe.
Maillard's Reaction Adds Color and Aroma That Makes Food Mouthwatering
When food is put into the hot oil a series of chemical reactions takes place called the Maillard Reaction.
Maillard reactions were first described by a French physician and biochemist, Louis-Camille Maillard, in 1912. These reactions produce hundreds of chemical compounds that give color and aroma to some of our favorite foods such as roast meat, potato chips, bread, and other bakery products, coffee, chocolate, and confectionery. - Les Copeland.
The Maillard reaction takes place most quickly in low humidity conditions at temperatures above 130 degrees C. That is why the Maillard reaction generally takes place during the cooking process by frying, grilling, baking methods.
The Maillard reaction is also referred to as a brownish reaction because it produces a brown color when food is cooked as well as in the fried food process.
Food that is only cooked by boiling or steaming only reaches a temperature of 100 degrees C. It cannot turn food into brown like what happens with fried food.
Saturated Fats Make Food More Enjoyable and Unhealthy at Once
Different fats in each type of oil produce different tastes and different health effects.
Highly saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Foods that are fried with high saturated fat will have a more pleasant surface, and the texture has less oil than foods that are fried with unsaturated oil. This is because saturated fats will solidify when cold.
Foods that are fried in saturated fat become more flavorful so as to produce a perspective of the delicacy of appetizing food.
Then, why is saturated fat considered unhealthy for frying? That is caused by saturated fat begins to break down at the temperature of the frying pan which will release fatty acids and produce visible smoke. When the fat reaches the smoke point it will create an unpleasant and dangerous aroma.
Saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of higher cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, the food industry and from the home kitchen especially in Indonesia generally use oil which has saturated fat, due to the lower price factor compared to other healthy oils.
In Indonesia society generally, use palm oil.
The Healthier Oil For Frying
Some types of oils that have healthy unsaturated fats and smoke points are higher than the usual frying temperatures, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, etc. These type of oil are good options for frying.
Of course, this type of oil will be more expensive for your kitchen expenses, especially if used for the deep-frying method.
Eating saturated fats and trans fats can raise your cholesterol, so the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 7 percent of your calories, eliminating trans fats as much as possible. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help improve blood cholesterol levels when you replace the unhealthy fats in your diet for unsaturated varieties. Liquid frying oils such as peanut, canola, sunflower, safflower, sunflower and olive oil are good sources of unsaturated fats. - Via Livestrong.
Fried Foods Are Typically High in Trans Fats
Fried foods are significantly higher in fat and calories than their non-fried counterparts.
For example, one small baked potato (100 grams) contains 93 calories and 0 grams of fat, while the same amount (100 grams) of french fries contains 319 calories and 17 grams of fat.
High temperatures in the frying method make food containing trans fat. Trans fats are formed when unsaturated fats undergo a process called hydrogenation.
Food manufacturers often hydrogenate fats using high pressure and hydrogen gas to increase their shelf life and stability, but hydrogenation also occurs when oils are heated to very high temperatures during cooking.
The process changes the chemical structure of fats, making them difficult for your body to break down, which can ultimately lead to negative health effects.
Trans fats are associated with an increased risk of various diseases such as heart attack, diabetes, and obesity.
The Health side is often overlooked because of the pleasure factor that we always want to achieve when eating food.
Alternative methods for frying food often offer an uneconomic side, the price of a healthy type of oil is more expensive, and produces a different taste.
Right now I still often eat my favorite french fries and even often make them myself at home. I try to replace palm oil as often as possible with olive oil. If my supply of olive oil starts running low, this will certainly reduce my intention to make more fried food.
For sauteing, I have fully used olive oil because of the small portion of oil needed.
On the other hand, I learned to replace the method of frying by steaming. Of course, eating potatoes for breakfast with the method of steaming or boiling isn't too bad. There are pepper and salt flavor enhancers that give potatoes a better flavor. This method is certainly more cost-effective because it does not need to provide a lot of healthy oil which is super expensive, especially in Indonesia!
How about you? Are you still having trouble freeing the deliciousness from fried foods especially french fries?
- The Science of Frying By Fine Cooking Editors, Via Finecooking.com.
- Why Are Fried Foods Bad For You? By Kayla McDonell, RD,
- Kitchen Science By Les Copeland, Via Theconversation.com
The Images without source are my own properties.
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A Content Writer and A Social Media Manager From Indonesia