Fried foods are delicious, wonderful, unhealthy (depending on who you ask) and mysterious.
When you're chowing down on a fresh basket of french fries, you probably aren't giving much thought to exactly how that perfect consistency of crunchy outside and creamy inside is accomplished.
Thanks to author and food scientist Harold McGee and this new video from PBS show "Mind of a Chef," we now have a better understanding of how frying food actually works.
According to McGee, the real reason food is fried in oil -- aside from it being delicious -- is the fact that it can reach a much higher temperature than water ("to 400 degrees or more"), causing any water on the food's surface to turn into vapor.
Most helpful of all, however, is McGee's explanation of when fried food is done cooking. Those little bubbles do more than splatter grease all over your kitchen, they also act to measure doneness.
"Little bubbles begin to form off the sides and disperse into the oil and then as the food gets hotter and hotter, more and more bubbles come out," McGee explains. "The fact that the food is bubbling actively means that it's got lots of moisture left, we need to keep cooking it and by the time we're finished, there should be little or no bubbling left. That means that the crust has been dried out completely it's nice and crunchy and there's no more cooking left to do."
Who knew science could sound so yummy?
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