Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

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The perfect French fries

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How many of you actually tried to make your own French fries and failed? You probably thought it’s just slicing the potatoes into sticks and then just throwing them into hot oil and they will magically come out as delicious crispy fries with a fluffy interior. But there’s a science to the perfect homemade French fries. I will show you important steps required.

Choose Russett or Older potatoes

russet

Russett, Idaho or older potatoes are better because they are starchier and has a lower water content. They are sometimes labeled as baking potatoes. You should also cut them into uniform sizes – I usually cut them to about 0.5 cm thick.

Pre-cook the fries in water.

A lot of questions were asked whether one should precook the fries before deep frying them. The answer is yes. This achieves two things – first it tries to remove the excess starch on the surface of the fries which helps to reduce browning, so your fries will have a light gold colour, which looks more appealing and it also helps to activate pectin, which holds the French fries in their shape. According to food science – the best temperature of your cooking would be 170 Fahrenheit or 76.6 Celsius, as after that temperature, pectin would be deactivated. The perfect fries would need to be cooked at that temperature for 15 minutes.

For ones like me who had an immersion circulator to control the water temperature – that would be easy – but it’s not regular household kitchen equipment. However, there’s another way to counter this problem.

A way to strengthen the pectic is acidity – so you can counter this problem by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar per litre of water to your cooking water. That way – you do not need to worry about your water temperature. Just cook your potatoes over the acidic boiling water for 10 minutes. The potatoes should be tender but not easily broken apart – firm texture. Leave them to dry for 5 minutes on towels. And nope – we’re not done yet.

Fry the fries twice!

Most chefs and online recipes argued that the best fries are fried twice, at different temperatures. This is to ensure a crispier texture – but if you were to cook your fries just like that – you’re still missing something. The concept of double frying your French fries is correct – but there’s one more step you should do.

Freeze the fries!

Fries that were deep fried once and then allowed to freeze in the freezer – then refried – taste better! Another advantage is that you can make a big batch and keep them in your freezer – and you can have perfect fries anytime! Just take them out of the freezer and deep fry them!

Let’s review the steps

First off, choose starchy potatoes with lower water content such as Russett and cut them into 0.5cm thickness, uniform sizes. Boil them in vinegar water for 10 minutes. Deep fry them in batches and then freeze them overnight. Take them out of the freezer and deep fry straight away! There you go! Your perfect fries!

Ingredients

  • 1kg russet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch fries shape – wash first and then soak the potatoes in a bowl of water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt
  • Canola or grapeseed oil for frying (Duck fat or pork fat for that extra oomph if you like)

Directions

1. Place potatoes and vinegar in saucepan and add around 2 litres of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes.

2. Potatoes should be fully tender, but not falling apart. Drain and spread on paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Allow to dry for five minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large wok over high heat to 400°F or 205°C.

4. Add 1/3 of fries to oil (oil temperature should drop to around 360°F or 182°C). Cook for 50 seconds, stirring occasionally with a wire mesh spider, then remove to second paper-towel lined rimmed baking sheet.

5. Repeat with remaining potatoes (working in two more batches), allowing oil to return to 400°F after each addition. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

6. Arrange the fries on trays in the freezer and store in bags after they are frozen.

7. Let the heat of the oil reach 400°F or 205°C. Fry the frozen fries in batches until crisp and light golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain at around 360°F or 182°C .

8. Drain in a bowl lined with paper towels and season immediately with salt. At this stage, you can add various spices and toppings to your fries such as garlic powder, cayenne pepper or even parmesan cheese!

9. Cooked fries can be kept hot and crisp on a wire rack set on a sheet tray in a 200°F oven while second batch is cooked. Serve hot and crispy! Yum!

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