Food & Drink

Deep-Fried Everything

A Culinary Experiment in Boiling Oil

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Deep-frying is as American as cursing is French. The culinary rights established by our founding fathers give us the right to deep-fry anything under the sun. But should we? To save you the trouble (and get paid for doing weird shit), we took over the deep fryers of U-District frat-standby Dante's (5300 Roosevelt Way NE, 525-1300). We deep-fried a collection of innovative items, determining their palatability, texture, mouth feel, and umami—then tested the results on the unwitting but game patrons of Dante's. Now we report back to you with the results.

Blueberry Muffin

We dipped the muffin in beer batter and dropped it in the fryer. Upon retrieval and dissection, we realized it was still cold in the middle. The muffin was again dipped in beer batter and returned to the hot oil.

Assessment: The muffin came out golden brown, absorbing an inordinate amount of oil. We cut it into pieces and slathered them with whipped cream. We didn't think it tasted that different from a regular muffin, but the patrons gave it a resounding thumbs-up.

Verdict: We say "meh." They say "yeah!"

Pepperoni Hot Pocket

The Hot Pocket was fried sans batter, like a giant pizza stick. It was burn-y on the outside and cold in the middle, which is typical of Hot Pockets prepared in any manner.

Assessment: Every single person Jonah offered the Hot Pocket to refused it outright. Dicks. But when Ari offered the goods (along with a wink and a smile), a group of young men decided to take the plunge into flavor country. After one bite, they decided the dish would be better as "beer soup," pouring a half-pint of beer into the bowl. They seemed pleased with the fried delight and their own ingenuity.

Verdict: Everything is better with beer.

Gummi Worms

Like their living counterparts, the Gummi worms squirmed out of our hands and back into the batter repeatedly. After depositing them in the fry basket, the Gummi worms promptly melted into a gelatinous, sticky, battered lump.

Assessment: The lump was surprisingly devoid of taste, but was immediately devoured by one young woman, who exclaimed, "It tastes like doughnuts!" It most definitely did not taste like doughnuts.

Verdict: Gross—don't do it.

Bacon-Wrapped Matzo Balls

After we experimented with a few matzo balls not wrapped in bacon (to determine the proper cooking time), our sacrilegious beauties came out a beautiful golden brown.

Assessment: Holy Christ, these were amazing! Our kosher grandmothers will probably never forgive us for this, but of all the things we tried, this was the tastiest. We didn't even make enough to serve to the patrons. We ate them all, huddled over the deep fryer.

Verdict: Delicious—just don't tell your rabbi.

Spam, Olives, and Pickles

These three items, pickled in their own juices, seemed like they'd make good flavor friends. The olives and pickles maintained batter integrity, but the Spam's moistness would be its downfall. The Spam's batter peeled back from the "meat," leaving half of the small square a deep shade of red, while the other half blackened in the heat of the oil.

Assessment: We cut everything up into bite-size pieces and arranged them on a plate, studded with toothpicks. We paired the "tapas" with an exquisite ranch-dressing reduction. The olives were delicious, but a pit almost broke the tooth of one patron who refused to heed our warnings. The Spam tasted like a mixture of dim sum and dog food. But the pickles were a success.

Verdict: Skip the Spam, but everything else is good eatin'.

Safeway-Brand Snack Pie

As the apple, mixed-berry, and chocolate pies were lowered into the fryer baskets, their glazed exteriors liquefied and rehardened. When retrieved and cut open, their molten interiors oozed out like a partial-birth foodbortion.

Assessment: The seeping chocolate filling burned a tester's hand. We took the pies out to the bar full of taste testers, who refused the addition of whipped cream, shoveling the crisped sweet treats into their mouths with reckless abandon.

Verdict: Who doesn't like pie?

Mac and Cheese

After dropping small slabs of still-frozen Banquet Macaroni and Cheese Dinner ($1!) in batter, we placed them in the fryer and promptly forgot about them. Fortunately, we were reminded of their presence by the bar manager, Kelly, who had been eagerly anticipating its appearance on our menu.

Assessment: Crispy on the outside and mushy in the middle, the fried mac and cheese didn't disappoint, despite its frugal, low-quality beginnings. Of course, devoting your Kraft Deluxe to such a venture would probably yield the same delicious result.

Verdict: A taste sensation! (Kelly scooped it into his mouth by the handful and asked if there was any more.)

A Whole Fucking Tilapia

The pièce de résistance of the night was a whole, head-on, lifeless-eyes-staring-at-you tilapia, which cost a whopping $1.14.

Assessment: The eyes did not explode as expected, but the unbattered fish still stunk up the joint. When the fish emerged from the fryer, neither of us would touch it, so we sent it—whole—to the beer-swilling patrons out in the bar. Only one man was brave enough to try it, giving it a positive review. We took the fish back to the kitchen and dug in ourselves, determining it to be a bit fishy, if not excessively oily.

Verdict: Tilapia is a boring, cheap fish—but as we've learned tonight, everything gets better when you fry it.


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You should have coated the spam in some flour first, as you would a veal cutlet or a piece of chicken you are about to fry.
Posted by spamspamspamspam on October 4, 2008 at 1:02 PM · Report this
i wrote for my high school newspaper, too. is that your target audience? this is borderline short bus filler material. and, yes, you should have chosen a different breading option for the spam.
Posted by jenc01 on October 9, 2008 at 12:37 PM · Report this
wow what a downer jen. i thought it was freakin hialrious! keep up the good work
Posted by Rena on October 12, 2008 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Gee Jen, even the spamspamspam guy had constructive criticism. I wish I had been in the tasting gallery.
Posted by E. on October 13, 2008 at 7:06 PM · Report this
I can't really blame Jen here- the mention of Dante's makes my skin crawl, too. Jen just sounds like a miserable person who holds everyone else in contempt for her lack of ambition and subsequent success. Bet she's a firecracker in bed, though, barring horrible disfigurement, which would also explain her nasty disposition.
Posted by jfljoe on October 16, 2008 at 12:57 PM · Report this
This is so Midwest!
Posted by MidtownCoog on February 3, 2009 at 11:24 AM · Report this
You didn't deep fry candybars? How about a deep-fried Baby Ruth?
Posted by freespirit on February 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM · Report this
having been on the working end of those type of fryers for way too many frikkin hours, the odd notion to just start pitching things in does come over you. You hear good things about twinkys.
But my two personal favs were apples... and for more haute... a fried egg. Simply crack egg into deep fryer and you get a visually stunning, if not terribly appealing, bit of protein.
Oh, and sometimes the apples do pop a bit. But I wish I was there for the tilapia.

Posted by francesco on February 11, 2009 at 6:15 PM · Report this

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