Everyone has heard how using olive oil in vinaigrettes, emulsions and baked goods, drizzled on or dipped into adds an extra layer of flavor as well as adding some healthy properties to it. But what people don't know is that cooking food in high temperature methods such as frying and sautéing with Extra Virgin Olive Oil can bring the same health properties too.
But how can frying be healthy? "That's impossible" I used to think! But the truth is that by using extra virgin olive oil you can have the best of both worlds: Tasty and Healthy Food.
Pan frying, deep frying, stir frying, and sautéing are different stove top methods but they all have one thing in common: the extra virgin olive oil cooking temperature. The purpose of these cooking methods is to cook the outside of the food briefly which will allow us to create a crispy exterior, while at the same time allowing the heat from the oil to cook the inside properly. To achieve this, it is essential for the Oil reach a temperature of 350º to 370º before putting the food in the pan.
Myth number one: The smoking point of olive oil is not high enough for frying.
Some cooking oils and fats will reach the smoking point before reaching temperatures required for a proper fry. The smoking point is the temperature at which a chemical change takes place resulting in undesirable smoke and flavor. Olive oil is not one of them. The smoking point of extra virgin olive oil is somewhere between 380º and 410º Fahrenheit, depending on the impurities and acid levels of the olive oil: the better the quality, the higher the smoking point. So, it appears that the smoking point of olive oil is well above the temperature required.
Myth number two: Frying temperatures will turn Good Olive Oil into an unhealthy Oil.
Cooking fats and oils are considered dietary fats of which there are three types, saturated, trans and unsaturated. The first two are bad, but the third, unsaturated fat, includes olive oil, a healthy dietary fat. The heat required to raise the temperature of the oil high enough to fry food cannot change the chemical composition of olive oil from a good oil and turn it into a bad Oil.
Myth number three: Fried foods absorb cooking oil.
Good fried food will absorb much less cooking oil if the temperature of the oil is high enough before food is introduced to it. Otherwise, the food will soak up the oil, producing a soggy meal, like those oil soaked unhealthy tasting fries from fast food restaurants.
Not only can you fry with extra virgin olive oil, but you should. Frying with EVOO not only satisfies our desire for Southern-fried comfort foods, Asian stir fry, Mexican fajitas and Italian veal piccata, but it does all of that in addition to fulfilling our nutritional requirements for a healthy dietary fat as well.