Why Are Greek Fries Special?
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One of the things I remember most about my yiayia, or grandmother, are the potatoes that she peeled almost constantly, many of which became her signature French fries. She would peel each potato in a circular ring and drop it in a giant mixing bowl filled with water, where she’d leave them submerged until it was time to cut them up into French fry shapes and dropped in a frying pan filled about an inch deep with hot olive oil. The resulting fries were crisp and brown on the outside while soft and moist on the inside.
As an adult, my first few batches of Greek fries were sadly lacking. It takes a special knack to get the oil to the right temperature. I’ve also learned the hard way that you can’t leave the fries unattended. They cook quickly and are prone to burning. It took a while to hone my frying technique but I knew I was still missing a crucial step. They were hard and gummy on the inside, even though I was convinced that I was doing everything right. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the real secret. The unique texture of the fries is achieved by soaking the potatoes in water and this is a step I had been omitting because I wanted to cut down on my preparation time.
It wasn’t until I visited Greece that I realized that the way my yiayia used to make them is fairly common throughout the country. In fact, this is the way the restaurants often make them as well, unless they chose to make them in the professional fryer. Some Greek restaurants do buy uncooked fries that have been precut, which saves the restaurant cooks a lot of time, especially if fries are a popular item on the menu. Still, many of them do use olive oil, which still gives these precut fries a unique flavor.
Another thing that makes Greek fries unique is in how they are seasoned. Often, they’re simply sprinkled with Greek sea salt and some black pepper. Greeks don’t use ketchup as often as we do here in the United States but they still dip their fries in ketchup occasionally. Many Greeks follow the European tradition of dipping fries in mayonnaise and others use skordalia, the traditional garlic dip, or tzatziki as their preferred dipping sauce for these potatoes. Some cooks even season them with common Greek herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
Greeks seem to enjoy eating fries throughout the day. During large family dinners, platters of fries are lovingly prepared and brought to the table in platters. They seem to compliment everything and round out most meals nicely, especially those that involve meat and seafood. Greek fries are also a popular street food. Some gyros even have French fries included in them! In fact, this is so common, you need to make a special request if you don’t want them in your sandwich.
Remember that if you decide to make Greek-style fries at home, don’t forget to submerge the peeled potato in water before you cut it into shapes. This will result in a fries that are golden on the outside and soft and moist on the inside; this makes the perfect Greek fry!
Categorized in: Greek Cooking
This post was written by Greek Boston