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Rice bran oil - the new neutral, and fryer’s best friend

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Rice bran oil is taking its star turn on the kitchen counter as a healthy oil. And the published science bears this out.

Extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice, it’s rich in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and research suggests that it can reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase levels of HDL, often called the “good cholesterol.”

In action, rice bran oil is light and clean tasting – virtually flavorless -- and perfect when you want the ingredients to hold center stage – not the flavor of the oil.

But rice bran oil has two additional attributes that make it a huge score for home cooks who like to fry foods. First, it has a very high smoke point, 450F, and second, its levels of healthy anti-oxidants,remain stable (don’t degrade) at high cooking temperatures, unlike most other oils.

The high smoke point of rice bran oil makes it easier to establish and maintain adequate frying temperatures without stepping over the line and ruining a project when the oil to starts to smoke. It also makes it easier to keep temperatures pinned to the higher heat points that keep the food you’re frying from absorbing too much oil – a common problem when cooking oil is not hot enough

So it’s win-win-win. Win: you can crank up the temperature to properly fry the food without wandering over the smoke point. Win: you can fry at temperatures that keep foods from absorbing unreasonable amounts of oil. And, win: rice bran oil retains its healthful properties even at high heat.

Rice bran oil is more expensive than commonly used vegetable oils, but it also brings more to the table, both in terms of health and kitchen versatility.

The oil used in this story is California Rice Oil® rice bran oil, a locally grown and processed non-GMO product. You may purchase rice bran oil from their website, or use the site’s store locator function to find a store near you that stocks it. The site also includes recipes for dressings, dipping sauces, and baked and fried foods.

SMASHED FRIED POTATOES

serves six

Using rice bran oil for this recipe makes it almost idiot-proof. You can keep the oil hot enough to brown the exposed edges of the “fries” (375F) without passing the smoke point of the oil. Use a fry thermometer to keep track of the oil temperature.

  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – you don’t want the potatoes to get too soft or split open.
  2. Drain the potatoes, and before they cool completely, gently flatten them with a skillet. Show restraint; the potato must hold together to sufficiently to withstand deep frying later on. At this point the potatoes may be refrigerated until you’re ready to fry them.
  3. Fill a heavy pot or skillet with cooking oil (this recipe was developed using California Rice Oil company rice bran oil) to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375F and fry the flattened potatoes a few at a time until they are golden, 1 to 2 minutes, turning once. Remember, the potatoes are already cooked; you just have to brown them.
  4. Drain on paper towels.
  5. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve.
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