Scientists have revealed the secret to cooking the perfect fried chicken.
In a video uploaded to by the chemistry channel Reactions, experts from the American Chemical Society explain why using hot oil to fry chicken produces such a distinctive flavour which occasionally resembles that of fish.
In the clip, titled “Fried Chicken’s Deliciousness Explained”, they informed viewers that after the meat is marinated and battered, it should be fried at no less than 150°C and no more than 190°C in order to enhance the flavour.
This causes the oil to produce triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood that should be monitored if you suffer from high blood pressure.
“These are the main component of human body fat so as you might imagine, it doesn’t make fried chicken the healthiest picnic food,” the experts said. “But we’re here for the flavour.”
A key thing to look out for whilst the chicken cooks are the bubbles that start to surround the meat as the temperature rises. Known as “rapid fire bubbles”, they ensure that the fillet inside remains tender, whilst the outside continues to crisp.
“This process is crucial in extracting the water from fried foods and gives the batter that amazing crunch,” the scientists said.
As for the funky fishy odour that sometimes invades our nostrils when we cook fried chicken, that’s down to oxidation.
“While gently browned fried chicken has a pleasant buttery, nutty flavour, the oxidation of certain fatty acids like linoleic acid can produce volatile compounds which are smelly and can easily go airborne and fly into your nostrils.”
The oxidation then produces fatty acids like carboxylic acid, which has an intensely pungent scent resembling that of fish.
The best way to avoid this is to go the whole hog by investing in a deep fat fryer, as this will reduce the oxidation process. Go hard or go home, as the chicken fryers say.