Friday, August 13, 2010

The World of Infused Oils

Infused oils with your favorite herbs and spices are a wonderful alternative to rich sauces over fish, amazing drizzled over your favorite salad and makes a great dipping sauce for a crusty loaf of bread.
There are as many ways to use infused oils as there are combinations of herbs and spices to make them so I will leave that to your creative imagination! What I want to share with you is the different ways of making them, and I'm only sharing a couple today.
First decide what type of type of oil you want to use. The oils I use are pure or extra virgin olive oil, depending on what you want to use it for, extra virgin oil can over power your herbs or spices. I typically use pure olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil or grapeseed oil because the essence of many of our favorite ingredients are fat soluble, fat or oil is an ideal flavor carrier and these oils are mostly neutral in flavor. Ever notice how flavorful a piece or steak or pork fat is when you cook your favorite seasoning on them? Same principle, fat is a perfect medium for carrying different flavors.
Using the blender or food processor for making infused oil works great when using fresh ingredients like herbs, garlic, ginger where there is oils and moisture in the ingredients. I add my collage of ingredients and a little oil at first and give it a pulse or two then add the rest of my oil and blend until everything is coarsely ground. Run oil mixture through a strainer and bottle. This will definitely need to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.
Using the method of heating your oil to around 185-200 degrees and adding you herbs and spices and basically steeping your ingredients (the heat of the oil will release the essential oils in the herbs and spices). After your oil cools, strain the oil and bottle. I still highly recommend refrigerating your oil to prevent spoiling. A ratio to use for your concoctions is for every pint of oil add from 2-8 tbsp of fresh herbs depending on there strength and freshness, experiment! If you need your infused oil warm or at room temperature for a dish pour desired amount you need in a bowl and microwave for just a second or two or just leave it out until it warms.
So buy some bottles, pick your herbs, gather your favorite spices and make some fragrant and wonderful infused oils!  Enjoy.......

1 comment:

shizuokagourmet said...

Dear Michael!
I totally agree, the more for it because of my French upbringing and the love of the Japanese for scented oils and vinegars in their food!
Taking of vinegar, the Missus often uses a wasabi pickles (finely chopped) seasoned rice vinegar when frying white fish or chicken!
Thanks for sharing!