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Old 09-02-2009, 10:41 AM   #1
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Some lessons learnt on crispyness

In a previous question, I was wondering how I made my crispy beef crispier. I would link to it, but the forum doesn't trust me yet - doh! Anyway...

How do I make my crispy beef more crispy?

Quote:
I have a simple method for cooking Vietnamese crispy beef. Prepare a quick marinade with rice wine, palm sugar, fish sauce, etc, and add two beaten eggs; then take some fillet beef, coat in the mixture, dry it slightly then dust in cornflour and deep fry in oil.

The meat is nice and tender and very tasty, but I'd like it to be more crispy... any ideas?
From making a slightly different recipe, I was able to achieve crispier results. This time I made Chinese crispy shredded beef, instead of the Vietnamese crispy beef. With the Chinese version, the flavours are served with the sauce instead of a marinade, so that the beef can be extra crispy.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem possible to make beef very crispy when using a marinade (unless you dry it thoroughly before adding the batter, I assume).

Anyway, here's some tricks I learnt - I hope this helps someone else!
  1. For the crispest beef, slice it very thin. I find that freezing it before hand makes this a lot easier.
  2. For the batter, you can make it from just egg and cornstarch. Too little cornstarch makes the batter taste like Styrofoam. Too much cornstarch and the pieces too difficult to separate for frying. So the trick here is to get just the right amount of cornstarch.
  3. They also need to be fried for some time in order to get that slightly harder texture of the beef. But you need to make sure you don't fry for too long, otherwise they'll burn, obviously.
  4. If you taste them straight out of the oil, they're often a little soft - which makes it tempting to put them back in. However, if you wait for about 5 minutes and make sure they're dried thoroughly, they'll taste better.
  5. I haven't tried this, but I have heard that if you fry them a second time after they've cooled down, then this will make them extra crispy.
  6. As for the sauce, if you serve separately, then they will stay crispy longer.

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Old 09-02-2009, 01:24 PM   #2
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You're right about drying the beef to get it as crispy as possible. The combination of very high heat and a dry product will yield the caramelization of sugars that we call "crispy".

I love Mongolian beef, which has no batter. The more liquid you add to a pan, the more you'll be steaming, preventing the caramelization of sugars.

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