We have eaten French Fries often enough... it was the first item I ordered from Mac Donalds when they opened shop here some 30 years ago and it is one of the most popular accompaniment with everything from Fish to Burgers to Steak... We can rationalise all we want about how oily and calorie loaded they are, but in reality, I think there is no one who can resist a well cooked Fries. Frozen fries are now so readily available from the supermarket that few would consider it worthwhile to prepare our own fries from scratch.
Indeed, making good fries from scratch is troublesome. I actually had to start almost 2 days in advance the last time I prepared fries for a gathering - but it was all worth it.
As I appraised the bag of russet potatoes in my kitchen like it was my own innovation challenge, 3 dishes popped in my mind and one of them is actually a variation of the Pommes Frites (French Fries), the Pomme Noisettes. The Pomme Noisettes is actually a distant and vague impression from my childhood. At that time, a certain Frozen Food company had started commercialising these frozen potato balls. The advertising campaign was aggressive and they made sure that those deep fried potato balls looked golden and delicious in the commercials... I believe all the kids back then were sold.
To create these, I had used a melon baller to scoop out balls of raw potatoes. These were then simmered in boiling water to pre-cook them. The boiled potatoes were then cooled down and chilled overnight. The first fry took place at 130C until the potato balls turned yellowish brown. These were once again chilled for half a day before deep frying it again at 190C. Fries made this way are amazingly crispy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. I had chosen to season these with the Japanese Shichimi Togarashi (7 spice chili powder) to give it a little spicy kick.Be warned, these are really addictive and will run out in no time at any beer party. Though pretty in their Noisettes shapes, scooping these balls out from the potatoes actually created alot of wastage. For practical reason, I would cut these into little cubes next time I make them.
To get the right puffed up crispy finish, the temperature of the oil needs to be well controlled. To be honest, I am not totally satisfied with my Pommes Noisettes. I do think I did not control the temperature of my oil well and hence, it did not retain its crispness for very long. Nevertheless, they are still addictive and goes superbly with a cold cold beer...
Oil for Deep frying
Shichimi Toragashi (can replaced with Truffle salt, paprika or other smoked salt)
1. Peel Russet Potatoes or other floury potatoes. Choose bigger potatoes if you want to scoop balls out of them. Cut the peeled potatoes into half horizontally. Systematically scoop out potatoes will a melon baller to minimise wastage.
2. Run the potato balls under water for a few minutes to remove excess starch.
3. Boil a pot of water. Add a generous amount of salt (10% weight of water). When the water starts to boil, add in potato balls. Let water come back to boil and reduce heat to just a simmer. Do not let the potatoes boil else they will turn to mash.
4. Let potato balls simmer for about 3-5 mins until just cooked but not too soft.
5. Drain the water from the pot. Chill potatoes in the fridge overnight.
6. Heat a pot of oil to 130C. Fry the chilled potato balls in the hot oil until light brown. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon. Drain off excess oil and chill in fridge overnight. (At this stage, you can freeze it to store)
7. Heat a pot of oil to 190C. Fry the chilled potatoes until golden brown.
8. Remove from oil, drain and sprinkle with Shichimi Toragashi.