11 Oct2011

I don’t think there are many folks who would turn down some well-made french fries. I love french fries. And yet the classic fast food version of them sometimes falls flat, particularly if they are more than a few minutes out of the fryers. Unbeknownst to most consumers, big fast food fries are often sprayed with a sugared water solution or some form of sucrose before the fries are even frozen, then when popped frozen into the fryers, this sheen of sugar is what aids in the crisp, caramelized, sweet, crunchy surface of the fries to which will adhere the added salt. It’s a fastfood trick that frankly, pisses me off along with other fast food tricks that employ shortcuts that aren’t really necessary, or which introduce ingredients you could well do without. But that is big business, and you can’t buck the tide, or can you? We were experimenting with fries yesterday and I can assure you that you can get BRILLIANT fries without many tricks. Just good potatoes, homemade lard and good sea salt.

For the experiments, I got some pre-cut and frozen fries in the grocery, and on the packaging there seemed to be no indication of a sugar spray of any sort in the ingredients list. Then we heated up the lard to a medium-low temperature and did the first cooking in batches for say 2-3 minutes, just enough to really heat the fry through, and cook the insides thoroughly as the fry is removed and retains the heat. Once we had “par-fried” the fries and they had cooled slightly, we ramped up the heat on the lard to high, then plunged small batches of the once-cooked fries into the hot, hot oil and watched carefully until they had achieved just a blush of golden hue, and these were removed with a chinese strainer, drained on paper towels and tossed with fine kosher salt. They were served in a cone of waxed Zubuchon paper up top with a dish of ketchup on the side. They were FABULOUS. Really, really good fries. The lard does it every single time. And the double frying (a chef trick for those in the know) also does the trick. And use good salt. These fries were crisp and flavorful, without seeming fatty and they didn’t sit around long enough to get limp and lame, the crew devoured them in record time! For another variation, we tried fries with a bit of paprika, and a third batch with salt and vinegar powder. All versions were delicious.

I know what you’re thinking. What?! Lard?! Is he out of his mind? Not at all. Until recently in the U.S., most fries were cooked in transfat laden oils, which made them less healthy than eating our lard fried version. Regulations have changed that practice in the U.S. But in the Philippines, I suspect most fries are still cooked in transfat laden oils. So there. Okay, so fries are generally unhealthy…I agree with you there. But if you are going to indulge every once in while, shouldn’t you just go all the way and enjoy them at their best? Heehee. These aren’t for sale yet, just experimenting. But I tell you, I could sit down with an order of these and an ice-cold soda or beer and be one happy camper. Every once in a while, that is. :) Now if only pinoys would take to a pork belly or porchetta sandwich with these fries on the side. Yum.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Debbie says:

    Wow, I’m first to comment on this posting. These fries looks good, almost like the Costco fries that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 11:28 am

     
  2. j-gurl says:

    hi MM, saw ur zubuchon resto in Pinoy foodie

    Oct 11, 2011 | 11:30 am

     
  3. Marketman says:

    j-gurl, yipes, I missed that episode… but I was told that Nancy Lumen Reyes dropped by unannounced with a camera crew a few weekends ago… she left me a very nice note, one adobo lover to another. :)

    Oct 11, 2011 | 11:37 am

     
  4. Pam says:

    Double-fried! it must be double-tasty. I totally agree with you that deep fried in lard is no worse (and even better for you) than the fast food variety as long as your lard came from a trusted source. It really annoys me when people are disgusted by certain kinds of food when their regular fare isn’t much better like when westerners mocking cultures that eat dogs, or eat tripe or eat bugs, when meat in the Western world grown in the most horrifying conditions. Anyway, thanks for bringing so much information about the food we eat to the general public.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 11:55 am

     
  5. Dogbone says:

    “Now if only pinoys would take to a pork belly or porchetta sandwich with these fries on the side. Yum.”

    Now THIS sounds like a potential Zubuchon menu item!
    Still looking forward to a Manila branch… :P

    I’m hungry!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 11:56 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Dogbone, we did offer the pork belly sandwich when we opened, but not many ordered it. It was similar in concept to this one I wrote about before, but with a bit more pinoy flavoring twist, and it was excellent. But some “education” is required…. :) Will try again by making it a weekend special soon, maybe with the fries to boot!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 12:02 pm

     
  7. Isaac says:

    Unfortunately here in the U.S. it is very difficult to get natural, un-homogenized lard. It is just the thing for frying and pastries too. I hope you have those fries on the menu when I come over for a visit in November!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 12:19 pm

     
  8. Betchay says:

    Are those pre-cut fries sold in the supermarkets from real whole potatoes? I mean not processed– like some of those chicken nuggets for sale? I love french fries but I was aghast when I saw that it was not cut from whole potatoes but processed and then placed in a contraption like a big garlic press and that’s how you get the perfectly cut fries!
    Have you heard of the new Philips air fryer? It boasts of no-oil frying—is it for real? or it just uses the same convection oven technology in a smaller gadget?

    Oct 11, 2011 | 12:57 pm

     
  9. JE says:

    Sandwiches will have a hard time competing against regular Pinoy lunch fare, which will always involve rice.

    Do you plan on doing fries with fresh-cut potatoes? Or too much work?

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:04 pm

     
  10. Marketman says:

    JE, I find our local potatoes aren’t starchy enough, like say russets, the classic U.S. frying potato… with nearly 30% of all U.S. grown potatoes ending up as fries, it seems they have the hold on the french fry raw material… Betchay, good point, have to watch for that… extruded potatoes, wow! Isaac, you can get great leaf lard from flying pigs farm, their website here, but it runs roughly $11 per kilo or PHP480-500 per kilo, before shipping. We sell similar slow-rendered leaf lard at Zubuchon outlets for roughly PHP200 a kilo, in containers that contain 350 grams for PHP65. It’s good. :)

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:08 pm

     
  11. Isaac says:

    Many of those potatoes are grown and processed into fries not far from where I live, and yes, they are real potatoes. Generally they are shot at high speed under water pressure through a set of cutting knives.

    Here’s a lengthy article about the history of those pre-cut supermarket fries, including a snazzy video that shows the water knife. Yes, it’s all full of marketing hype, but it is informative.
    http://www.lambweston.com/about_us/history/history.jsp

    MM, I think airport security (and customs) won’t be very happy if I try to bring a couple tubs of lard home on the plane. I’ll check out flying pigs farm.. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a local source if I keep looking.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:21 pm

     
  12. Gej says:

    MM , isn’t it the “sandwich” and not the pork belly that only a few Pinoys order? Because many of us prefer rice to bread? Odd for me, since I love bread a lot. If that pork belly and porchetta sandwich were accessible to me I’d buy right away!

    What’s the benefit of double frying? I heard that Japanese fried chicken also uses double frying. The reason given was to make sure the inside part of the chicken is properly cooked. Is this the same reason for double frying your fries? Then that would help too in inihaw, or double-grilling, right?

    BTW I tried your “Greek” pork chops recipe from one of your early posts. Wow! Gone in no time.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:25 pm

     
  13. Jeff says:

    MM, have you seen the Zubuchon in this month’s issue of FOOD Magazine? I think it was included in the Top 50 sort of something this holiday season.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:38 pm

     
  14. joey says:

    I’ll have a pork belly sandwich with these fries on the side please!! :) Hayayay…must go to Cebu soon and get myself some Zubuchon, a bottle of lard, and fries!

    Agree with the double frying — that’s how they do it in Belgium where, in my humble opinion, they make the best fries in the world :)

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:42 pm

     
  15. Marketman says:

    Joey, here’s a bit of trivia for all of us… it seems the original McDonald’s fries were cooked in LARD. :) Jeff, yes, thanks I have. Zubuchon was picked as one of the Top 50 best food products, services, etc. for 2011 in Food Magazine’s 16th anniversary issue. We were thrilled to be included. But I have to say, the blurb was written by Claude Tayag, who has come to our lechonan to see us make them from scratch, so maybe it wasn’t completely objective… :) But thanks Claude! Gej, yes its the bread, not the liempo that gets folks, yet so many people lunch at Mcdonald’s and Jollibee and have cheeseburgers…

    Oct 11, 2011 | 1:53 pm

     
  16. lee says:

    I think I would also love to have a pork belly sandwich with an order of a half serving of rice on the side.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 3:44 pm

     
  17. anonymous paul says:

    Mcdonald’s used beef tallow for their fries. It caused a bit of a media stir back in the late 80’s and they switched to vegetable oil after that. As it turns out, most vegetable oils turn rancid and break down too quickly when used in frying; becoming carcinogenic …so not really much different in the health aspect. LARD on the other hand is much stable and has a higher smoking point, which makes things less greasy when frying. Studies also show lard has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. It is the preferred fat for frying for those who have access and in the know. Is it healthier? Not really. But its not as bad as everyone thinks it is.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 4:22 pm

     
  18. Vickie B. says:

    All I can say is OMG!!!! I want to try them!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 5:13 pm

     
  19. GayeN says:

    OMG!!! French fries heaven :)) Can I have an order of pork belly or porchetta sandwich with these fries on the side please? :)))

    Re: Leaf lard. Do you have any re-sellers here in Manila?

    Oct 11, 2011 | 5:29 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    anonymous paul, thanks for that, yes, apparently it is tallow, not pork lard… By healthier, I meant pork lard is probably healthier than trans fat filled partially hydrogenated vegetable oils… GayeN, no we don’t sell it Manila yet. Oddly, we have had it available in Cebu for 3 months and less than 2 dozen people have “discovered it” and buy it from us like they have found a long lost friend. One recent fan was Nancy Lumen Reyes, who took a container of it home after visiting our store…

    Oct 11, 2011 | 5:35 pm

     
  21. iFoodTrip says:

    I’m sure this will taste better with fresh potatoes. The big ones you find in the market and groceries are probably imported anyway. I find that they do have enough starch. The small ones are surely local and not starchy enough.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 6:00 pm

     
  22. Chinky says:

    Back in 1982, I worked as a McDonald’s service crew and was always assigned to either the fries station or the food prep station. Then, we peeled by hand large potatoes, probably imported from somewhere, sliced them in a slicer, “par-fried”them in what I think was lard, drained them for a time, before frying again a second time before serving to customers. The fries then were really good and didn’t get soggy too quickly!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 6:55 pm

     
  23. PITS, MANILA says:

    THANKS FOR SHARING, MM! IT’S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU’RE BETTER OFF MAKING ON YOUR OWN. I HEARD THAT THERE WAS A TIME WHEN THE ‘SECRET’ FOR CRISPY FRIES WAS USING ‘SODIUM META BISULPHATE’ (?) AND GOODNESS KNOWS WHAT EFFECTS THAT MAY HAVE ON YOUR HEALTH.

    I AGREE … IF ONE PLANS ON ‘FEASTING’ (AND THIS HAPPENS — ONCE IN A BLUE MOON?), ONE SHOULD HAVE THE BEST OF THE BEST! YOU’RE ONLY IN TROUBLE IF YOU ‘FEAST’ EVERYDAY …

    Oct 11, 2011 | 7:03 pm

     
  24. Rona Y says:

    If you like double-fried fries, try triple-cooked. Parboil (in salted water if you can), then par-fry, then do the final fry to brown and crisp them. After the second cooking (i.e. the first fry), you can let them cool, blot them dry, and freeze them. Then you can stockpile fries for future use!

    Oct 11, 2011 | 8:38 pm

     
  25. betty q. says:

    Gej…it is what we call BLANCHING…so the potatoes start forming a skin and partially cooking it. When you see steam forming, remove the potatoes, drying them thoroughly and letting them come to room temp. before cranking up the heat of your deep fryer. It also helps to remove as much starch/moisture as possible. Kennebec and Russets are the potatoes generally used for they have just enough starch with less moisture in them. The older the potato, the less starch there is and the less moisture left on the potato. You need less starch and moisture on the pots so they do not stick to each other. Nothing worse than french fries sticking to each other preventing it from getting crispy when subjected to high heat frying.

    Oct 11, 2011 | 10:10 pm

     
  26. ann says:

    yum! this i gotta try! where can i buy lard? i wanna try it w/ minced garlic (the ones you get in plastic bottles at the grocery)

    Oct 12, 2011 | 2:11 am

     
  27. Maddie says:

    I want porchetta sandwich too with fries. Wish you would open Zubuchon here. Wishful thinking only.

    Oct 12, 2011 | 7:04 am

     
  28. ami says:

    Gej – the japanese aren’t the only folks double frying their chicken, the koreans do too. This is the premise of Bonchon chicken.

    Oct 12, 2011 | 8:58 am

     
  29. Roddy says:

    I want lard! Where oh where can I find it in Manila? An alternative is grasse d’oie (?) or rendered goose fat which is occassionally available at Santi’s or Terry’s…but you pay through the nose.

    Marble potatoes baked in goose fat (featured by MM sometime back) is a family favorite.

    Oct 12, 2011 | 9:01 am

     
  30. GayeN says:

    RE: Leaf lard – I do hope you can bring some over here in Manila. I sure it will be sold out in minutes. :))

    Oct 12, 2011 | 9:34 am

     
  31. corrine says:

    I love sandwiches! Please put back your pork belly sandwich. Maybe, you can have a specific day when you serve those special sandwiches to manage customers’ expectations? Hope it’s Thursday!

    Oct 12, 2011 | 12:31 pm

     
  32. Mart says:

    That’s some good looking fries MM!

    @Isaac
    Getting lard here in the US shouldn’t be that hard. Not sure about unhomogenized lard though. I thought lard was what you get after rendering pork fat so there wouldn’t be large bits/blobs floating on top and the result is a uniformly clear liquid (or semi-solid/solid depending on ambient/room temps).
    Here is one place that sells lard: http://www.localharvest.org/open-kettle-leaf-lard-ready-to-use-C8350
    Here is where I buy my tallow: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Categories.bok?category=Grassland+Beef%3ATallow%2C+Marrow+%26+Broth+Products
    And you can get duck fat from Amazon! : http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=duck+fat&x=0&y=0

    I haven’t tried double fried duck fat fries but I’ve read that they’re great.

    Oct 12, 2011 | 2:38 pm

     
  33. James says:

    MM – it is very odd to me that pinoy will gobble down KFC, McDonald’s, Jollibee, etc. But, when faced with sandwiches elsewhere, they’ll complain about the bread.

    Why do you think that is?

    Oct 12, 2011 | 3:07 pm

     
  34. Marketman says:

    James, it seems totally inexplicable, really. When the first McDonald’s opened in Manila, everyone said Filipinos would snack there but never eat a meal there. But since then, McDonalds, Jollibee, etc. have sold billions of hamburgers, albeit many of them flavored with sugar, soy, etc. to cater to the local taste buds. They have, however, sold even more chicken and rice I suspect. And the Philippines was probably the first country where McDonalds ever served rice globally…

    As for a “good sandwich” elsewhere, I am not sure where the reticence comes from. Everyone I tested the “Pork Belly Sandwich” with from high brow diners to our gardeners and pig pen managers loved it. But would they order it and pay for it? Hmmm…

    Oddly, as a nation, we consume a ridiculously inordinate amount of sweet spaghetti… way overcooked noodles, sickly sweet tomato sauce, synthetic cheese and sliced hotdogs… but wouldn’t think to order a simple al dente spaghetti al pomodoro… :)

    Oct 12, 2011 | 4:25 pm

     
  35. Divine G. says:

    I just turned on the tv and America’s test kitcken is cooking french fries. Double fried using peanut oil then really wipe-dry the first fried potatoes then sprinkling 2tsp of cornstarch then fry again Then fried ribeye steak in 2Tbp oil until it turned brown on both sides and put butter with chopped chives salt pepper garlic cover with aluminum and let it rest. Serve the steak with the french fries. Looks delicious….

    Oct 13, 2011 | 1:40 am

     
  36. Divine G. says:

    As Cris K. was explaining the frying science that when frying the amylose is coming out of the potatoes and staying on its surface. It turned out that cornstarch is 25% amylose.

    Oct 13, 2011 | 1:42 am

     
  37. MP says:

    MM, I hope the Zubuchon authorized dealer in Mercato will soon include your leaf lard in their items for sale.

    Oct 13, 2011 | 5:16 am

     
  38. Marketman says:

    MP, you’ll have to ask them, we don’t actually determine what they carry… :)

    Oct 13, 2011 | 6:57 am

     
  39. atbnorway says:

    I worked at a vegetable processing plant here in Norway in 2002 and was assigned to man the conveyor belt for the potatoes so I got to see the process from dirty potatoes to packaging of frozen fries. About that sucrose MM mentioned in this post, I can only confirm that, yes, there was this white powder that our shift leader or supervisor put into a big vessel or solution bath where the cut potatoes passed through before going into the frying chamber then into a fast freeze chamber, then onto big crates to be transported to the packaging plant. It is not a mystery to me on how the billions of potatoes were peeled, hehehe. That’s a lot of potatoes to peel, right?

    Oct 15, 2011 | 3:35 am

     
  40. Catherine says:

    Hi MM,

    Ever heard of POUTINE? It is essentially french fries topped with cheese curds and then smothered with brown gravy… definitely not for dieters but if you love cheese, gravy and fries… then is something that will certainly tickle your tummy.

    C

    Dec 29, 2011 | 11:04 am

     
 

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