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Cooking Methods Part 2 of 3

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2007-09-22 10:46:17     
Article by Lisa Paterson

To a few cooking seems to be an innate skill but to others it is filled with dread and horror. Cooking need not be frightening. Here we will take a look at some of the chief cooking methods and show you how easy it really is.

Once, you master one or two of these cooking techniques, you will then be enthused and confident to try some of the others.

Just relax and enjoy it.

FRYING
From the oven to the fry pan. Frying is the method of cooking food in hot fat. Frying will give your food a appetizing golden brown color and a wonderful flavor - please keep in mind that nutritionist warn about too much oil in our diet from frying.

DEEP-FAT FRYING
This is the frying process where the food is totally immersed in hot fat. It needs to be very hot and generally cooks the food quickly. When deep frying you need an oil that can be heated to a high temperature without smoking - an oil with a high smoke point. Good oils for this are corn oil and soya bean oil but groundnut oil is the best. In order to deep fry foods successfully they need a protective coating to avoid drying out. The two most popular coatings are breadcrumbs and batter and these are most commonly used on fish, seafood, chicken and chips, with a new fad being the mars bar. You have probably seen this method of cooking performed many times before at your local store. A deep heavy pan is used to heat the oil and a wire basket used to lift the food out. Much care is need as the oil is extremely hot and it can be quite dangerous. Many house fires have been caused by the fat catching fire. For a safer option you can buy an electric deep-fryer with a thermostatic control.

SHALLOW-FAT FRYING
A safer alternative to deep frying is shallow frying. This frying method is similar but the oil is heated in a shallow pan. And instead of immersing the food in the oil the food is laid in the oil and cooked one side at a time. You can use vegetable oil such as corn oil and the thicker the food you are cooking the thicker the oil will need to be. The oil will need to be very hot other wise the food will absorb the fat and won't taste as good. Put the food in and cook one side, and then flip carefully using a slotted spoon or fish slice. Once cooked remove carefully from the oil, shake it gently to remove excess oil and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately while still hot. You can use this method of cooking for coated foods like fish cakes and crumbed meat, or for potato slices.

PAN-FRYING
This is a modern more heath conscience method. It cooks the food quickly and easily. It is either done dry, for fatty foods like bacon and sausages or a small amount of oil is added for chops, steak, chicken etc. The pan is heated either with or without a little oil, the meat is added and cooked on one side and is then turned over and cooked on the other side until cooked through. The heat quickly seals the food and keeps it moist and tender.

STIR-FRYING
Stir-frying refers to cooking a variety of foods together quickly in a pan. It is a very quick way of cooking small pieces of food in a healthy and appetizing way. It has been shown a lot on television in recent years and has become very popular. Generally a wok is used however a similar result can be achieved in your fry pan. For a successful stir fry you need to ensure all the ingredients are cut up into similar sizes, so that they will cook evenly. Prepare all the food in advance and have it ready because once, you start it won't take long to cook. Heat a little oil in the pan and make sure it is really hot before cooking. It is important to only cook small quantities at a time because you want the food to fry and not to steam. The most common foods cooked like this are:- thin strips of beef, pork, lamb, chicken; prawns; scallops; slices of fish; mixed with lots of vegetables - pak choi, cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, carrot, onion, zucchini and spring onions. Noodles are often added towards the end of the cooking time and since this method of cooking originated from the orient often flavors added are ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.

SAUTEING
This method is similar to frying and evolved from stir-frying. Sautéing means `moving' the food. The most common item sautéed is onions - fry the onions in a little oil in a frying pan but you keep stirring them. Because the onion is finely chopped it needs to be kept moving to prevent it from burning in the hot pan.

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