Recently while we were eating in a restaurant, my husband made a comment that really perked me up. Tasting the French fries that came with the meal, he said the fries we had at home were much better and mas masarap (more delicious).
Of course, I was pleased to hear that. Coming from him, an intellectual who doesn’t throw praises around indiscriminately, the compliment was like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. That it was given so sincerely and came so unexpectedly made it even sweeter.
But in all modesty, I have to admit that we do make good fries at home. One not-so-secret technique is double frying—frying the potatoes a second time after they’ve been cooked. This seals in the crispness of the potatoes, making them truly delectable and palate-pleasing.
Another technique is to make sure the cooking oil in the pan is hot enough before you put in the potatoes. Otherwise, the potatoes will absorb too much of the oil, making them greasy and soggy.
Here’s the recipe, from my kitchen to yours.
Crisp, golden French fries
2 large or 3 medium potatoes (around 2 k)
4-5 c ice-cold water
3-4 c cooking oil, preferably corn oil
Salt, to taste
Peel the potatoes then slice them lengthwise into about ¼- inch thick slices. Put the potatoes in a colander and wash under cold running water to remove some of the starch from the potatoes.
Transfer the potatoes to a deep bowl and pour enough ice cold water to cover. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes then spread them on a large platter or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Using more paper towels, blot the potatoes until they’re completely dry.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot. Carefully drop the potatoes in the hot oil then lower the heat to medium. If the potatoes are too many for the pan, fry them in batches (do not overcrowd the pan). Let the potatoes fry in the oil, using a heat-proof spatula or turner to move them constantly in the pan. Fry until the potatoes are cooked through and turn a light golden yellow (just when the edges start to brown lightly).
Scoop up the potatoes with a slotted spoon or wire scoop and let the excess oil drip back into the pan (you may also have to do this in batches). Transfer the potatoes to a plate lined with absorbent paper or paper towels. Let rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Reheat the oil in the frying pan to medium heat. Fry the potatoes a second time, again using a heat-proof spatula or turner to move them continuously in the pan. Let the potatoes fry until golden brown and crisp, around one to two minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season to taste with salt. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.
For wiping and blotting the potatoes, use good-quality, very thick paper towels so they don’t tear.
Be very careful when dropping the potatoes into the hot oil so the oil doesn’t splatter. Drop the potatoes gently or use a long-handled heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon to lower them into the pan.
Make sure the cooking oil is hot enough before you put in the potatoes so they don’t get soggy.
To test if the oil is hot enough, drop one piece of potato in the oil. If it sizzles, then the oil is ready to be used.
Season the cooked fries while they’re still hot so the salt sticks to the fries. Make sure not to put too much salt.
If desired, serve the fries with ketchup or barbecue sauce.
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