Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Infused Oil

I turned in my infused oil homework today. For the past week I've had several flavor mixes steeping in jars of oil: tarragon in olive oil, vanilla beans in olive oil (Steph's great idea), orange peel & chilli in canola oil, and Syrian Za'atar in olive oil. The za'atar was my trump card, of course, but I had the others as fail-safes on standby just so I'd still have something to turn in for homework in case the za'atar didn't work. But it turned out beautifully.. yay! Surprisingly, it was the orange & chilli combo that didn't come out that well (it clouded up on me)...perhaps I botched up the hot infusion? The vanilla & the tarragon were cold-infused, and the Za'atar was a blend of a hot infused batch, and a cold one.

Infused oil is the simplest thing in the world. You put the oil and your herbs or flavorings together, and you either let it steep in the ref anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks (cold infusion) or warm it up very gently for about half an hour (hot infusion). Monitor with a thermometer. Keep the oil at around 180 to 200°F.

Going into this I dug around in my old stuff & I found a catalog of Ferran Adria Aromatic Oils he'd designed for Borges. I'd picked this catalog up at a food expo years and years ago when I'd never even heard of the guy. Some great ideas there (rosemary-infused olive oil on chocolate ice cream? I must try that sometime) but I wanted to come up with my own stuff. I stumbled onto the Za'atar in my Harold McGee. Here's the recipe:

Syrian Za'tar Infused oil

1/4 cup sumac
2 tablespoons thyme
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup EVOO

I started this with a cold infusion but the night before the due date I didn't feel the flavor was strong enough, plus I only ended up with about 150mL (the assignment required at least 200mL) and so I needed 50mL of strong stuff quick so I did a hot infusion. I left the two batches to drip through a double layer of coffee filters overnight, and the next morning I had beautifully clear oil. Now I should go plan a middle eastern dinner menu to test drive the stuff.


Anonymous kaoko said...

Interesting! I've always been interested in infused oils I see in delis and stuff. Makasubok nga, I'll look up other infusion combos.

6:12 PM  
Blogger annmariemarie said...

Do you use a candy thermometer to monitor the oil's temperature just like Alton Brown? Last night I ordered the Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer at Amazon. Was wondering if you're using the same brand? I have never used a candy thermometer before but I wanted to make golden crispy lumpia. Lagi ko kasing nasusunog!

4:45 PM  
Blogger JB said...


Because of the lo temperatures I was working with, my Polder instant read thermometer sufficed. If I was frying stuff then I would need a deep-fry thermometer, which I don't own. Gear guru Alton Brown doesn't mention any specific manufacturer for deep-fry thermometers but he does suggest a few features to look for: easy-to read display, mercury or digital (not dial-type), etc. I think your thermometer fits the bill :-) Happy frying!

7:05 PM  
Blogger annmariemarie said...

I see. Thanks Iron Chef JB! =) Hmmm I should get a hold of AB's Kitchen Gear book at the library... soon!

I like your blog. And I like how you write. Baka maging Anthony Bourdain ka rin ha minus his overtestorteroned choice of words. Haha!

7:33 AM  
Blogger JB said...


Thank you, I'm glad you like it :-) Idol ko si Anthony Bourdain! Sana lang di ako maging ganun kayabang hehehe.

2:51 PM  
Blogger macky said...

hi everyone. May i ask if yun bang tinatawag na candy thermometer is pwede gamitin sa deep frying na dapat ang oil temp is 400'F? di ba nababasag yung glass body nya?

9:57 PM  
Blogger JB said...

Hi Macky! Most (not all) candy thermometers are also deep-fry thermometers. Both kinds of thermometers can withstand very high temperatures (higher for candy). The only real difference is in the gradations. For oil temps you're dealing with increments of 50 or maybe 25 degrees, but when preparing candy, a difference of 5 degrees is already huge and so the thermometer needs to have the appropriate markings.

My advice: Check the thermometer to make sure it has the increments you need. This is one of the cases where more expensive is actually better. Buy the most expensive one you can afford. I've managed to explode el cheapo thermometers in the past.

Good luck! :-)

10:31 PM  

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