Hanukkah is all about the oil - the miracle behind its endurance and, today, its use in fried foods. The eight-day Jewish festival, starting at sundown on Saturday, commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem temple in 165 B.C., when one night's worth of lamp oil lasted eight days.
Hanukkah is all about the oil — the miracle behind its endurance and, today, its use in fried foods.
The eight-day Jewish festival, starting at sundown on Saturday, commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem temple in 165 B.C., when one night’s worth of lamp oil lasted eight days.
For the celebration of Hanukkah, fried foods are deemed essential. And good fried foods require a few tips, the first of which involves selecting the right oil. Some oils work better than others in frying. Cooks look for thosewith a high “smoke point,” or the temperature at which an oil begins to break down.
Vegetable oil — a combination of palm, soybean and sunflower oil — is suited to deep-frying at high temperatures. Other good choices include peanut and safflower oil.
Olive oil is considered fine for pan-frying (as in the latke recipe) but not good for deep-frying (as in the recipe for zeppole, or Italian fried dough).
Besides the type of oil chosen, a few other suggestions make for successful frying:
• Heat the oil to the temperature dictated by the recipe. With deep-frying, use a thermometer to ensure the correct temperature.
• Don’t crowd the pan. To prevent the dropping temperature of the oil from causing greasy results, cook the items in batches.
• Reheat the oil to the appropriate temperature for each batch before continuing the preparation.
• After each batch, skim the oil of any remaining bits of food — to keep them from being attached to the frying food and giving it a burnt taste.
• Drain the food and enjoy it hot. Use a slotted spoon to leave as much oil as possible in the pot; then place the food on a baking sheet draped with paper towels.