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Onion Rings


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I absolutely love onion rings. For years and years my favorite prep was a beer batter. More recently, I am gravitating to the simple--a soak in tabasco-dashed buttermilk, then a coating in seasoned flour/cornstarch only (dash of baking powder). I love all versions freshly made, but there is something about the simple crunch of the flour-coated onion ring that I like.

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I don't do onion rings often but I do like a tweaked batter version I do occasionally using chickpea flour(aka besam or gram flour) and beer. I was inspired by onion bhaji to use the chickpea flour for a ring instead.

besam flour, , cayenne , pinch of baking powder, salt enough beer to make a fairly thick batter.

I rinse the rings in a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 cup of water , toss in some dry chickpea flour , then dip into the batter and into the fryer.

Great lightbulb moment I had was to do jalapeno rings with the same batter a couple years ago.

I don't have pics of the onion rings but I did take some of the jalapeno rings.

jalarings1.JPG

jalarings3.JPG

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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A while ago, I kicked off a longish and very interesting thread on the MC starch-infused ultrasonic French fry (see ).

Now I'm beginning to wonder of some of the same techniques could be applied to onion rings, and perhaps vice versa.

The above recipes seem to have used AP flour, corn starch, rice flour, chickpea flour, and Tempura batter. But why not try potato flour, as well?

Second question -- all of these recipes seem to fry the onions only once, as opposed to the two-step, lower temperature, cool, then super-hot temperature for the second go-round, or even the triple cooked (boiled, then fried twice) method of Heston Blumenthal's Pommes Pont Neuf. So I wonder -- would a two-step process be of any benefit? The goal of that process, as I understand it, is to cook the potatoes to the point that the inside is nicely softened, but then achieve a crunchy exterior.

JimS mentioned the possible use of both baking power and baking soda in the batter. This might two two things -- the baking powder might make the batter lighter and more airy, as the carbon dioxide is released; and the baking soda might dissolve some of the pectin in the onion rings, and allow the batter to stick to the onion better, so it doesn't slide out.

Since it's Sunday, and I have some time to explore, I think I'll go buy some Vidallia onions. Then make a beer batter with 2/3 beer and 1/3 potato flour and 1 tsp of baking soda. Bag the onions in the batter and vacuum pack, then immerse in an ultrasonic cavitation machine for 30 minutes a side. Remove from the bag, and dredge in a little more flour. Then into the deep fryer at 330F until lightly browned, probably about 3 minutes. Remove and fan cool. Then back in the fryer at 395F until the desired color.

I have no idea what I'm doing or whether this will work at all! Mad scientist, secret laboratory!

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I did onion rings not long ago using 50/50 rice flour and Wondra with a touch of baking powder and beer as the liquid. Put the whole thing in the cream whipper and dispensed as needed to coat batches of rings. Worked very well. Lacy, airy and shatteringly crisp. Same batter worked very well on pieces of cod as well.

I'm not sure how/why double cooking would work on onion rings. They're not monolithic blocks of starch the way french fries are. Really all you need to do is crisp the batter.

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The massive aeration dies down pretty quickly, so the best technique is to dispense a little bit, dip a small batch and go quickly into the oil. Then repeat. There is definitely a big difference in the quality of the fried batter from rings dipped into just-dispensed batter and rings dipped into batter that's de-fluffed a bit. My subjective observation is that the just-dispensed batter tends to adhere in a thicker layer as well (which is a positive in this particular case).

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My preferred flour is potato flour. I think it adds a hint of potato flavor that accents the onion. Since Wondra flour is so finely ground, it probably gives a different finished texture on the onion ring than what you'd get with more coarsely ground all-purpose flour.

I use a ratio of about 60% flour to 40% cornstarch. The cornstarch is what gives my onion rings the crispness. If I'm using a beer batter, I don't add baking soda as the beer is the activator and so soda isn't needed.

I only fry the onion rings for about 2-3 minutes so I don't think a double-fry would work in terms of practicality--and the onion rings are fantastic with only one fry.

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Robert, you might like to try some Trisol with your onion rings. I make deep fried whitebait (they might be called silver fish or anchovies where you are) - but you get the idea. Tiny little white fish with black eyes that you eat whole. They commonly serve these at Yum Cha places. My Trisol whitebait is easily better - a thin coating of a shatteringly crispy crust with fishy goodness inside. Recipe: 50:50 Trisol and all purpose flour with a pinch of salt. Put the flour and fish in a plastic bag and shake. Fry immediately at 180C until golden.

I am sure the recipe can be adapted for onion rings, but if you want a bit more body I would probably dunk the rings in the flour mixture twice.

The secret is Trisol. You want it. Hunt it down! :)

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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They say that only way to avoid making mistakes is through experience. Unfortunately, the only way to gain experience is by making mistakes!

Failure #1. I tried making a beer batter, using 328 g of Guiness Foreign Extra, 100 g potato flour, and 0.5 g of baking soda. It hardened to the consistency of cookie dough within a few minutes., and the dark beer made it look like the dog had done it, but never mind. I added the remains of the second bottle I was planning to drink, another 193 g, so that I could at least coat the rings. Using tongs, I dropped a few of the coated rings into the basket, and deep-fried them at 350F for three minutes. The rings were nicely soft, but rather oily. But the batter didn’t stick well to them, but it did stick to the fry basket.

Failure #2. Since I had the rings already coated with the batter, I thought I’d try them at a higher temperature, 395F. The results were even worse — the batter didn’t stick at all, and the batter got too done.

Failure #3. I vacuum sealed four or five rings in a bag, and immersed them in my ultrasonic machine for 20 minutes on a side, then vacuum cooled them three times at 99.9% + 30 seconds. The batter stuck a little bit better, but not much, and the rings were still oily.

Success, finally! I tried slkinsey’s recipe, mixing rice flour and Wondra 50/50, but I had no idea how much beer to use. I finally ended up with 80 g each of rice flour and Wondra, and 200 g of a pale ale, and the results were delightful!

Next time, maybe I'll try some with buttermilk.

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