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Who deep fries more?


Kent Wang
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I have a bet with a friend about which cuisine involves more deep fried items, Cantonese or the American South? Or more accurately, which cuisine consumes more deep fried items, as opposed to just the sheer variety of fried dishes?

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I can't speak to the Cantonese side at all, but as a native Louisianian, I can tell you that deep fried foods at home were a rare treat. I remember my mom frying green tomatoes and eggplant fewer than five times. Grandpa did chicken and fish while he was still able -- a few times a year. A friend's mom fries catfish and trout often as her husband and son catch their own frequently. She'll also do beignets at home.

Maybe Marcelle Bienvenu could comment here. I seem to remember from "Stir the Pot", a book she coauthored with an historian on Louisiana cuisine, fried foods became common in the mid-20th century namely in restaurants as most homecooks didn't (and still don't) want to deal with the mess at home.

So maybe your question needs a qualifier -- home cooking or restaurant fare?

Bridget Avila

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I can't speak to the Cantonese, but there has always been much less deep frying in the south than is commonly perceived. There are huge regional differences, as well. I would say a southern family that does a lot of deep frying would eat that way twice a week at the very most. Once every 10 to 14 days would be more the norm in my neck of the woods, the deep south as in Southwest Georgia.

Fried chicken really is a once or twice a month treat, and has been for as long as I can remember. Fish fry is a real special occurance, maybe once a quarter. The batter dipped okra everyone thinks of is unusual, and was never prepared in that manner in my home as I was raised, or in my relatives or homes of family friends. It was rather pan fried, actually a saute almost. Green tomatoes came around once or twice a year. It was more common in our household growing up to use green tomatoes in omelettes. Vegetables were almost never deep fried. In fact, I remember more boiled, creamed, mashed or baked potatoes than french fries.

Boiling, braising, roasting, pan frying, grilling and smoking. That's what I remember most. Now bacon fat and butter figure prominently, but that's not the question.

My opinion only, and based solely upon personal experience.

Anne

Edited by annecros (log)
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I can speak to the Cantonese side of deep frying.

At home, not much deep frying. Most of the Cantonese deep fried foods I remember would be egg rolls, fried wontons, jin duey (sesame balls with sweet bean filling), Chinese doughnuts (fried bread) with rice congee, whole fried chicken, spicy shrimp, fried calamari. All these things I would eat at a restaurant, rarely at home.

I agree with bavila: there needs to be a qualifier.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I think you see a lot more deep fried foods in resaurants in the South than you do in people's homes. I can't remember the last time my mother deep fried anything. My father fries twice a year - once at Thanksgiving for the turkey, and again when he gets a deer and they make chicken fried venison.

Growing up, my mother made fried chicken as a rare treat. My grandmother fried more often, but it was always more of a shallow fry, maybe an inch or so of oil. I didn't know anybody who deep-fat fried. One poster mentioned breaded okra - we never had breaded okra, either. It was always just dusted with cornmeal and pan fried.

I can't speak for Cantonese cooking, but when I lived in mainland China, I noticed the restaurant/home dichotomy there as well. There were lots of fried things in restaurants, but in homes not so much.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Growing up in Arkansas (with grandparents in Texas and Louisiana) fried food was a rare treat. My grandmother would fry chicken on a Sunfay if the whole family was in town and if it was a long weekend with everyoen present, then she would fry fish. It was a huge undertaking to fry enough food for twelve people and not something she did often.

I loved her fried chicken, but hated having to wait so long after church on Sunday for dinner to be ready.

My father would occasionally fry deer steak for the family, but maybe only once or twice a year.

At home, my mother only fried maybe once a year, if that.

Also, with the exception of the fish, all foods were shallow fried, not deep fried.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Honestly, even in (authentic) Cantonese restaurants there really aren't that many purely deep fried items. However, there are often foods that are either deep fried or blanched in hot oil as one step in the cooking process.

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Have to concur, growing up here in the South, with everyone who is from either area... Deep frying was pretty rare at my house. In fact, my mom couldn't even make fried chicken - it was "shake n bake" (blech) if we had anything similar. I grew up actually liking a lot of vegetables, and french fries and fried okra were things that we only got when we went out to a cafeteria restaurant for Sunday dinner. My mom did fry "cubed steak" and pork chops (thin and pan-fried to a tough salty crisp that I hated as a kid, but it's how my dad liked them) but other than that there wasn't really anything pan-fried. For health reasons fatback and other stuff like that was kept out of veggies even before I was born... We did have a "Fry Daddy" like every family in the 70's, and they brought it out maybe 2-3 times a year when I was a kid. I don't think there was really anything fried in our home cooking that I can remember honestly. The only thing I can think about that might be considered unhealthy in the overall Southern diet is the use of pork fat.. We pretty much never deep-fried. "Chicken fried steak", at least in South Carolina, was something I never heard of as a kid... Most of the deep-fried food we ate out were on trips to the beach, chowign down on fried shrimp and hush puppies.

But, I think as the years went on (once I was about 10 or so) we ate WAY too much fast food, and that was the root of the problem.

LOL... I think my family and me were kinda pioneers when it came to fast food consumption - it's totally commonplace now, but when I was a kid 20 years ago I was the one with the cable TV and Nintendo in my own bedroom, chowing down on Domino's Pizza - not Southern fried food. Not to criticize my parents, but that's the kind of behavior that is truly unhealthy... Nowadays, I exercise A LOT, but I enjoy eating fried foods and whatever I want to eat. As long as my keep my calorie consumption in check, and my cholesterol is okay (132 two weeks ago!), I don't see anything wrong with eating as I do.

Speaking of deep-frying in restaurants though, nobody has mentioned Scotland! The home of deep-frying everything, candy bars and pizza... I guess it's an interesting, although relatively recent, phenomenon...

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