Olive oil 101 according to these hip, seasoned chefs
MANILA, Philippines – Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to go back to normal eating habits and to making healthier life choices.
Going on a diet or simply opting for healthier alternatives? The good news is eating healthier these days doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or give up satisfying and sumptuous meals; there are healthier yet tastier dietary options.
Two of the metro’s most sought-after chefs, Mikel Zaguirre and Kalel Chan, believe that one can still eat healthy and heartily at the same time.
Chef Mikel is the executive chef of Locavore while Chef Kalel is Raintree Restaurant’s corporate chef. It’s easy to fall for these two culinary masters not only because of their sumptuous creations, but also their pleasant aura and easy charm.
According to the two chefs and other arbiters of gastronomic feats, eating healthy boils down to the food preparation and of course, the ingredients.
Enter olive oil, a healthy alternative for preparing dishes that need a loving dose of fat to ensure quality of taste and texture.
A hundred grams of olive oil has 14 grams of saturated fat and 73 grams of monounsaturated fat. It has very little saturated fat, which is believed to raise cholesterol levels, and is composed of mostly monounsaturated fat which, according to studies, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and improves cardiovascular health.
It is also rich in Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Iron, and has no carbohydrates.
A kitchen staple for everyone
Olive oil has become a kitchen staple. It is readily available in the market and can be used by both trained chefs and self-taught home cooks.
Different kinds of olive oil have different purposes, however. What you should use depends on what you’ll be whipping up in your kitchen.
“Pomace is good for frying. Pure olive oil is good for sautéeing, or even for making sauces like pesto. If you want the flavor of olive oil to really come out in your dish, you can use extra virgin," Chef Kalel said in an interview with Rappler.
“It also depends on your palate. Extra virgin olive oil is also good for drizzling, finishing a dish, topping off salads,” he added.
Does olive oil alter the flavor of dishes?
“It really depends on your dish, also. Extra virgin has a strong taste, so you can’t use it for some dishes. You can use pure olive oil instead," he said.
Chef Kalel added: “Using pure olive oil is good to confit. So you can slow cook the meat in the oil itself. So you can slow-cook duck, you can slow-cook salmon. And it’s going to be really moist, and of course absorb the taste of olive oil.”
“Pomace is good for frying. It can stand the heat," he reiterated.
Chef Mikel is also an advocate of using olive oil. He uses it at work and also at home.
Locavore’s executive chef shared: “I add it to my kinilaw, to give it a texture that feels really good in the mouth. There’s a textural difference. I also put olive oil in our marinades, we create emulsions. We use it for our vinaigrettes. “
According to him, the taste of olive oil sets it apart from the rest. “Siya 'yung pinaka-pronounced yung flavor (Among oils, its flavor is most pronounced). For cooking oils, olive oil talaga is really pronounced. It gives a good aftertaste. Hindi siya lasang malansa (It doesn't taste off).”
He added that what's good about olive oil is that there are 3 kinds to choose from – extra virgin, pure, and pomace.
Like Chef Kalel, Chef Mikel uses specific types of olive oil for specific purposes.
“I use the extra virgin for finishing, especially the ready-to-eat food. And then for the pure, we use it to sautés, especially for quick-fix, ala-minute orders.”
Doña Elena Olive Oil tapped Chef Mikel and Chef Kalel as brand ambassadors. They were asked to concoct easy-to-prepare dishes using Doña Elena products.
One of the dishes Chef Kalel prepared for the campaign is the Spanish Style Balsamic Bangus Belly, which combines olive oil, balsamic vinegar, olives, carrots, garlic, onion, and spices such as bay leaf, Spanish paprika, thyme, and chilli flakes as part of the dish.
Chef Kalel shares a valuable cooking tip: “Low fire cooking is the key to allow the ingredients to further concentrate its flavors, tenderize the meat, reduce shrinkage, and retain its form.”
The bangus fillet turns out soft, moist, and a bit flaky, drizzled with a flavorful sauce that marries the spices and the acidic taste of the balsamic vinegar.
Chef Mikel, for his part, cooked Mojo Chicken, a dish that he likens to a simpler version of Peri-Peri Chicken.
The chef also used olive oil, spices, and vinegar for the dish, as well as roasted vegetables to create the marinade for the chicken which is marinated overnight. Roasting takes about an hour.
“Anyone can do it,” Chef Mikel said. – Rappler.com