On Rice Oil

As much I like them, I’ve never been really good with deep fried items.  One of my favorite items when I was growing up was the shanghai cuisine item “tai tiao huang yu” – aonori battered deep fried fish. Over the years, I’ve always gotten a queasy stomach after having one too many pieces of deep fried items.  During an omakase meal on Matsuhisa, LA on 16 June 2007,  one of my courses was a tempura sampler –

  Kisu ("Smelt"), new caledonian ebi, ika 'steak'
  hamo, uni with lemon juice, uni/shiso, anago with curry powder and
  salt; ponzu with daikon, salt, karashi, lemon juice

I was a little nervous when I started eating the tempura – waiting for the onset of queasiness.  It never happened.  I asked the omakase room chefs (and in particular, Kuri-san) why I was able to eat the tempura without problems.   Kuri-san chuckled and told me that they used rice oil (kome abura).  Since then it’s become my oil of choice when frying unless a recipe specifically calls for something else.  It’s light and mild/neutral in flavor with a high smoke point.

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