Last week I shared some pictures and recipes from my day “cooking” with the real housewives of Hong Kong… I thought you might also enjoy two easy, take-away tips from our chats at break time.
(image from Glam.com)
1. You need to differentiate your types of oils. I suppose I have always known this just never done it, but you really need to have oil you cook with and oil you don’t. The head chef confirmed this; there is ZERO point in spending any money on olive oil, for example, that you saute with. It only makes sense to use the really special stuff in salad dressings or when you drizzle it over, say, already baked fish. The ladies said they often use less expensive oils than olive oil for cooking with, like peanut and palm oil. (But then again, they don’t actually cook… so maybe they are talking about what their helpers use.)
After taking the class I bought a big, inexpensive jug of grapeseed oil to saute with — it has a higher flash point than olive oil, a milder flavor profile, and yet still has lots of antioxidants. Up until this realization, I have to admit that I would just have one bottle of olive oil next to the stove… usually it would be an upper-middle of the road bottle and I would use it for everything, hoping that good ingredients would equal better food, but I realize now that I was just a victim of good marketing!
2. Try a diamond fry pan. I was not completely surprised when these bling-adorned ladies told me I needed to get a frying pan made out of real diamonds… but I was interested to learn after some googling that there might be something to it. You’ve probably heard about all of the health concerns related to nonstick pans… not only does the film eventually peel off, but when the Teflon nonstick covering is over-heated, it releases a toxic gas. DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, says this doesn’t happen below 680 degrees… but scientists have found that a pan on high can reach 700 degrees in 3 minutes. So, word to the wise: if you do have nonstick pans keep them on medium!
Back to the bling: So it turns out that a synthetic diamond coating actually is a great alternative to non-stick coating. From the reviews I’ve read, the diamond non stick pans hold up a lot better than those by Calphalon and All Clad and they do a better job with browning, something many nonstick pans are horrible at.
The main manufacturer of these pans is called Swiss Diamond. There has been some debate about whether the diamond pans also contain Teflon or PFOA (the non-branded form of Teflon). From Swiss Diamond‘s site:
Do Swiss Diamond products contain PFOA?
NO! The inherent slippery, non-stick properties of Diamonds Crystals when amalgamated into a nano-composite (mixture of extremely thin particles), means we use a minor amount of PTFE in our products, much lesser than any other non-stick products. The reasons are that the amalgams of real Diamond Crystals require such high temperatures that any particle of PFOA which is contained in the PTFE will be totally burned out so that NO PFOA can be traced on Swiss Diamond products.”
So the debate rages on, but it does seem to me like a somewhat safer nonstick alternative. And it is much, much lighter than castiron — which I (and others, too) think is the best all around cooking pan. With a light slick of oil, Le Creuset can act nonstick all day long. But you have to have a pan for eggs and when when my current nonstick gives out, I may give the diamonds a try for myself. In the meantime, if anyone has tried the diamond pans, what do you think??