Friday, 17 December 2010

Adding the Crunch Factor

Ever wonder why tempura or your fish 'n' chips have that crispiness that are to-die-for? The secret ingredient might be to add beaten egg whites with/0r a fermented liquid such as sake, beer, white wine or vinegar. I don't know about others but at least I saw Jamie did. He'd make a beer batter for his fish 'n' chips and the results looked outstanding. The fish are coated with a very light yet crispy batter maintaining the moisture of the flesh whilst protecting the flesh of the fish from drying out.

In Southeast Asian cooking, the quest for crispiness are taken rather differently. We'd go for less intoxicating approach, so to speak. Haha. My grandma and my mom would put a little lye water or alkaline water* into their squid tempura or sotong celup tepung to give that crispy factor and a nice colour. Sometimes the vendors of 'goreng pisang' or housewives would have their own secret blend of flours to make a crispy banana fritters. In some recipes they'd also put duck egg in with assorted blend of rice flour, corn flour, wheat flour among others.

So, last Tuesday I decided to make 'cucur udang' to celebrate Kim's Birthday. I like my 'cucur udang' to be thin and crispy and in the attempt I decided to use self-rising flour, mix the batter with cold water and put the most unlikely ingredient in a 'cucur udang'; a dash of vinegar!! And the result was amazing. I can't taste the tang of the vinegar but I can surely feel the crunch. They seem to be enjoying it and I thought this recipe is worth keeping. To further test the longevity of the 'crunch', I left it on the table overnight. The next morning, I was amazed to find that it hasn't lost the crunch factor. With a little heating, it is good to go. Unlike when I do the batter for 'cucur udang' or 'goreng pisang' with mixing some eggs, they usually stay crunchy and crispy just f0r 20 minutes or so. Then, they started to be chewy and hard. So, adding a fermented liquid to your batter is probably a good idea, right? Just make sure the batter is light and you'll own the crunch!!

*cucur udang: prawn fritters
*alkaline water: air kapur, sodium hydroxide

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