In order to be a great chef, even a chef at home, you need to understand the ingredients you are cooking with. One such ingredient which people tend to give little thought to is cooking oil.
Cooking oils come in all shapes and sizes – bottles mainly – and are made from a huge variety of different ingredients. For many, the process of extracting oil is similar, but all cooking oils bring a little something extra to the table, as it were, when they are used for cooking.
Each oil has its own set of rules when it comes to how to cook with it and how to store it as well as their own set of health values that they can bring. Knowing your oils is important if you want to get the most out of your food.
The best place to start understanding oils is to see how they are made.
All oils are extracted from their corresponding raw ingredients using one of two methods: either naturally or chemically.
To remove oil from the raw ingredients the natural way, the ingredients themselves have to be mechanically pressed. Some oils which can’t be pressed, specifically nut oils, are extracted using an expeller press method. These presses place a huge force on the ingredients to force the oil out of the ingredients; by doing so, however, friction can produce a lot of heat which in turn can raise the temperature of the oil and affect the flavour. Heat-sensitive oils are cold pressed using a specially regulated temperature below 120F/49C.
Oils which can’t be extracted using a natural process must be created through a process called refining. This involves grinding the oil source before using certain chemicals to separate the oils from the rest of the solid matter like the seed’s pulp. When oils are refined they go through a cleaning process that bleaches and deodorises the oil.
At Royal Nawaab’s restaurant in London we use the finest ingredients, including high-quality cooking oils to make sure all our dishes taste as delicious as possible.