Do you need a snack? Savoury or sweet? Whichever you choose, fried food is immensely popular around the world! The crunch of deep-fried outer shells and soft mushy insides is a combination that makes taste buds tingle and boosts endorphins! There are endless options, and far too many to write about here, but nonetheless, let’s start with a list that outlines well known all-time favourites from wherever around the world!
French fries or Belgian fries
Do French fries come from France? The nomenclature is certainly misleading, but what we know as popular French fries originated in Belgium but were named French Fries as the language spoken in the area was French. French fries are true soul food when eaten hot with their salty crunchy exterior and soft potato goodness inside. The trick to cook them to perfection is to deep-fry them twice! Fries are mostly served with ketchup, mayonnaise or malt vinegar.
Chips or crisps
The name leads to an argument that has no answer, except based on where you are geographically located. The traditional English fish and chips have ‘chips’ that are like French fries but often more thickly cut, whilst people in some other parts of the world would relate ‘chips’ to being the flaky, light, crispy, crunchy slices of fried potato available in a bag! However, in the United Kingdom, these un-put-downable ‘wafers’ are called crisps! Confusing or not?
Whichever way you choose to fry fish, it is delicious! Crumb-fried, beer-batter fried, or just batter-fried are a few of the options. The crumb and crispy outer layers vary depending upon the ingredients used and chosen cooking method. The type of fish selected too imparts a varied flavour and texture! Popular choices are cod, haddock, halibut, and bass. In some south Asian countries, spiced-up versions of fried fish are popular street food and are served in bite-sized portions ideal to eat on the go.
Doughnuts are flat, round, hole-in-the-middle discs! Made from flour, deep-fried and served with a dusting of sugar, doughnuts are soul-food for many or the perfect lift-up for a low mood. Variations of doughnuts are finished with colourful glazes, sprinkles, fruit fillings and cream.
The Indian variation of a curry puff (or a pasty) is the samosa! As a popular mid-day or tea-time snack, spiced potato is encased in flour dough, shaped into a triangle and deep-fried. Served usually with two chutneys (sauces), one with mint and coriander and the other a sweet tamarind chutney, the samosa can be eaten on its own or even placed between slices of bread for a samosa sandwich or put in a pao (bun).
Hot, crunchy, flavourful fried chicken is like manna from heaven. Varied forms of fried chicken are available across the world, but the most popular are the seasoned crumb-fried versions. Fried chicken breast, chicken drumsticks, chicken wings or succulent mini pieces of popcorn chicken! Dipping sauces vary from regular tomato ketchup to mayonnaise or mustard, and a spicy sriracha sauce to heat this dish up. Don’t forget that airfrying is a healthier option!
Hailing from Spanish lands, churros have found their way around the world. Prepared similarly to doughnuts, they are made from flour and deep fried. The difference lies in the preparation and that the flour mix (flour, water, salt, sugar) is first cooked together to create a thick lump-free batter. This batter is then put into a piping bag with a star tip and then 4 to 5-inch ‘rods’ are squeezed into the hot oil. The deep frying and the ridges from the star tip make the churros ultra crispy. Once drained, the churros are dusted with plain sugar or a mix of cinnamon and sugar and often served with a chocolate dipping sauce.
A must-have at all amusement parks is the corn dog. A sausage on a stick dipped in corn batter and deep-fried. A bite of a corn dog results in a mix of flavours and textures from the cornbread and sausage.
Popular across Asia, various versions of spring rolls exist, with the fried ones being a popular street food or appetiser. A mix of precooked glass noodles, vegetables and meat or shrimp are placed on thin spring roll sheets and rolled into a cylindrical shape. These are then deep fried and served with a spicy, tangy, garlic dipping sauce or a sweet and sour dip. The meat and vegetable mix can be any combination although the popular ones are pork or chicken mince with shredded cabbage and carrot.
Mini vegetable and meat cakes that are pan-fried (akin to pancakes) are commonly referred to as fritters. Depending upon the region they are served in, they comprise a blend of shredded meat and vegetables bound together with cornflour or egg. All ingredients are mixed in a bowl and then spoonfuls are put on a hot pan and cooked. The fritters are best eaten hot and are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Fritters can be dipped in various Asian sauces or just plain ketchup!
A Japanese-style fritter where a large piece of meat, seafood or vegetable is coated in a very light batter and deep fried. The common types are prawn, scallop, squid, fish, eggplant, broccoli, bamboo shoots. Served straight from the wok, the tempura must be consumed once served to retain its crisp outer texture. Tempura is often served on its own with a dipping sauce called tentsuyu, with a sprinkle of salt, or garnished with udon noodles.
One of the tastiest fried foods in the Eastern lands of China, scallion pancakes are savoury pancakes made from flour, oil, lard and scallions. The pancake dough is first rolled out, then filled with lard and scallions, before forming a log and making into a coil. The coil is then placed on a pan with oil and flattened out into a disc. Not necessarily deep-fried, but cooked in a large quantity of oil, these pancakes are delicious and warming when eaten hot from the pan on a cold day!