I cannot tell you how many times I have been drawn into a conversation of which cooking oil to use, and when. People are often confused by the plethora of oils available, and how and when to use them. This post is not a full explanation on cooking oils, but instead, the 6 cooking oils you should have in your kitchen. Well, in my opinion. If you have these six oils in your kitchen, you will be able to feed your family famously.
The most pungent of this group of oils. I like to use sesame oil when I want to add character to a dish. Sesame oil is great in dressings, and its relatively high smoke point makes it great when cooking a stir-fry.
Peanut oil is one of the two oils I reserve for frying. I like to make steak fries for my friends and family, on those impromptu nights, when they descend upon me with little notice, and expect to make merry and be fed while they do so.
I pop some potatoes into the microwave, piercing them first, and let them cook until soft to touch. Then, allow them to cool, slice them in half and lay them cut side down, then slice them into steak fries. I heat a cup of oil in a skillet and when hot, push the sliced potatoes in. Cook on high heat to get them crispy on all sides, then bingo bango – they’re done!
Peanut oil doesn’t add flavor at high temperatures so it’s ideal for frying potatoes. The final result is always nice and crispy.
I like coconut oil, it makes easy work of cooking foods to a crispy crispness. I use organic coconut oil, virgin, if I can get it – unrefined and free from additives. If you want to try this oil, be prepared to dig deep into your wallet. The results though are phenomenal.
Coconut oil is another oil that does well in high temperatures. I like to use it to fry fish, onion rings, any breaded of battered food. Coconut oil is my mother’s favorite oil to use to make her fish cakes, they cook so well, she always smiles at the first bite.
Coconut oil will add a little flavor, dependent upon the temperature in which you cook your food. You will experience just a hint of nuttiness. Most people won’t notice though.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, and although there are elements in this oil that can raise good cholesterol, HDL, I really don’t think we should ignore that it can also raise bad cholesterol, LDL. My viewpoint on the pros and cons of coconut oil is that is should be used sparingly, and if you have cholesterol issues, you should avoid it completely.
I rarely use regular olive oil, instead I prefer to use grapeseed oil, but I do use extra virgin olive oil. My favorite is Iliada Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
All extra virgin olive oils are not made the same. You can spend a pretty penny on what looks like a beautiful bottle of oil and end up with a lemon!
How can you tell whether you have good extra virgin olive oil or not? Well, it’s simple, pour some into a small bowl and pop it into the fridge, if the oil turns into an opaque blob, that’s a thumbs down – you have an oil of poor quality, possibly a blend of oils from different regions. Good extra virgin olive oil can crystallize, but it shouldn’t it’s change consistency. If you do this test and the result is the latter, you have proof you have something good in your pantry.
Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for drizzling, dippings and dressings, and once in a while I’ll use it to sauté vegetables.
I haven’t been using avocado oil for very long. I thought it might be nice to add it to dressings, or as an alternative to olive oil for dipping. But who knew that it could take high temperatures? Try cooking poultry and fish in avocado oil, you’ll get great results.
I made garlic lime green cauliflower recently using avocado oil, it was delicious.
I use grapeseed oil much like most people use olive oil. I use it in dressings, to sauté vegetables and to cook meat and fish. Grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, but it can burn when you’re searing meat. For those times when you want to cook something at a higher heat than grapeseed oil usually allows, add a tablespoon or two of butter and you will be golden.