Groundnut oil and a hint of lemon: here is the secret of the perfect fried food
Which is the secret of a perfect fried food in a healthy way and without sacrificing flavor? We asked an expert chef of batters and arancine, the Sicilian Vincenzo Pizzurro, kitchen manager at the NH Hotel Palermo of Sara Ficocelli. The kitchen combination is well known, but what’s really surprising, when traveling in the beautiful Trinacria, it is that its delicacies made from oil and carbohydrates are not heavy. Frying in Sicily is always crisp. Tasty, never greasy, almost always well digested. We went to Palermo a splendid city, all to be discovered and enjoyed, and we interviewed one of the historic city chef, Vincenzo Pizzurro, one of the first ambassadors of Sicilian cuisine first in Lombardy and then in Europe and now in charge of the restoration of one of the oldest hotel in the capital, NH, which has always offered customers a rich menu of local dishes. “Cooking for a hotel is an important challenge – he explains – and be able to do a good job is thus an enormous satisfaction. I drive a team of 5 people plus three fixed rolling: it is hard to time, but there is also a lot of passion. ” The personnel manager, Antonio Di Natale, confirms: “We put the soul. It ‘s hard, but for us the Sicilian hospitality is all about. ”
Let’s go back to Fried. Pizzurro, what are the ingredients of the typical Sicilian batter?
“The base is prepared with 1 liter of warm water, 5 grams of salt, pepper, lemon zest, sugar and then the whole is mixed with a sieve and whisk, adding 200/250 grams of flour and yeast, 20 gr. At this point, it forms a cream which should be left to rest for about an hour and then leavens, swelling and become a real foam. Lemon zest is essential because when the batter fry becomes very fragrant. This type of frying is particularly used for vegetables; I recommend using the oil that is from peanut: it keeps the smoke point, it is not heavy. ”
And the fruit? You Sicilians fry even that …
“Yes, right. For fruits it follows the same process, just add a little extra sugar. When the oil is hot plunge the pieces and let fry for about 3 minutes, then left to dry on absorbent paper. The result is a crisp fry outside and inside very soft ”
And now to arancine, culinary symbol of Sicily.
“To fry the arancini first of all you have to prepare a semi-risotto (1 liter of water, 1 kg of rice, saffron, salt, pepper) and cook. When ready put it in a pan to cool, then change to prepare the arancino filling. The classic one is based on a mixed ragout of beef and pork veal with the addition of peas, ham and mozzarella; the sauce should be cool, in the sense of “cold worked”. When ready it is mixed with ham, mozzarella and peas and put it all aside. At this point you take the rice done and use it for mixing with grated cheese and salt and pepper, then pick up a ball of 100-150 gr rice, knead it well across the palm, take a bit of sauce and incorporate it in the middle; then rewound around the rice and closes arancina, leaving it in the fridge for half an hour. Essential for the success of this operation, you have the wet hand, otherwise the rice will stick. At this point prepare an alloy made from milk, water, flour and salt (type of pasta crepes), take arancina and soak it in this liquid cream, and then pass it in bread crumbs.
Boiling peanut oil, five minutes of frying, and the typical Sicilian arancini is ready. ”
And the fish? Any suggestions?
“One of the typical dishes of our region is the mixed fried cardoons and cod. The thistle is the plant of the artichoke, and this dish is a specialty of Christmas period, usually we prepare for the feast of immaculate, on December 8th . To make a state of the art we must take the vegetables, stem, peel it and boil it. Then the whole is cut into sticks and then prepared an alloy such as for arancine, with the milled flour (durum wheat, the one with which we make the pasta), and finally fried. The cod must first be left to soften in water, then in the league, and then combined with vegetables. How long? The fish need 7-8 minutes of cooking, the thistles 4-5. Respecting these times, in both cases the result will be delicious. ”
We already have your mouth watering. And you?