Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

July 28, 2010

Protein cookery can be divided into two categories:  dry-heat and moist-heat.  Moist-heat cookery encompasses poaching, braising, boiling, steaming, and the like, as well as sous vide techniques where a water-based solution is added to the protein before vacuum packing.  These are usually done at lower temperatures–obviously these processes cannot exceed 212 Fahrenheit, except for steaming, which is actually gentler than boiling (because of the lessened density of the cooking medium).

Dry-heat cookery includes roasting, baking, grilling, saute, and, yes, deep-frying.  I got into an argument with a culinary school instructor about this, and I still maintain that frying is a dry-heat method:  very high heat (almost always above 350); oil is the medium, just as with broiling or saute; a crispy exterior to the protein can be achieved, which is impossible in moist-heat cooking.

Deep-frying has a bad rap, no doubt about it.  Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC; a diner at solbar suggested I rechristen the “deep-fried cherry pie” so as not to scare other guests away from ordering it.  Like everything in one’s diet, fried food should certainly be eaten in moderation, but it certainly shouldn’t be shunned.  No other technique produces food as consistent, as popular, and as texturally exciting as deep-frying.  Come to solbar on tuesday nights for the buttermilk fried chicken–I’ll be shocked if you disagree.

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