Have your chips and eat it too

Health-conscious people have a fear of frying — certainly I have felt the aversion. You have to use fat to fry, and many of us think of fat as a root cause of poor health.

But there are fats ... and there are fats. Saturated fatty acids, like those found in dairy products and meat, contribute to heart disease.

Substituting monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, may help prevent heart disease, and research shows that certain polyunsaturated fats may be beneficial as well.

As for obesity, studies increasingly suggest that simple, low-quality carbohydrates are driving the epidemic. Not dietary fats.

Frying is nonetheless a high-calorie method of cooking, and I certainly don't advocate eating fried foods frequently.

But occasionally frying in healthier oils can make fibre-rich, nutrient-packed vegetables more palatable, helping to satisfy cravings for French fries or snack foods. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Sweet potato chips

If you deep-fry properly — allowing the oil to reach 360 to 375 degrees, letting it return to high temperature between batches, and not crowding the pan with items — your food will not absorb much of the oil. I find it easiest to make these addictive chips in a wok or a deep-fryer. The contrast of toasty and sweet flavours is delightful. I use a slicer to get uniform, paper-thin slices. Seek out organic oils.

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced paper-thin: 500gm

Organic canola oil (or enough for about 3 inches in a wok, deep-fryer or wide saucepan): 3-4cups

Salt: to taste (optional)

Method

Prepare the sweet potatoes while you heat the oil in a wok 360 to 375 degrees.

Use a deep-fry thermometer to measure the temperature.

Cook a handful of sweet potato slices at a time.

They are ready as soon as the edges curl and brown, which should take no more than a minute. Do not crowd the pan.

Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels on a rack.

Allow the oil to come back up to 360 to 375 degrees between batches.

Season with salt if desired and serve.

MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
NYT NEWS SERVICE

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