A Chef Explains Why Oil Is A Key Factor In Perfecting Homemade Tortilla Chips

chips dipped in guac
chips dipped in guac - Creative Cat Studio/Shutterstock

One of the best parts of going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant is the perfectly crispy tortilla chips served with your meal. If you've ever tried recreating these restaurant-style tortilla chips at home, you may not have been satisfied with your results. What differentiates restaurant chips from homemade ones is the technique and oil used for frying. Using a good, clean oil is important for getting the crispiest and tastiest chips. Chef Roberto Santibañez, Chef and Owner of Fonda restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn, shared with Tasting Table how important it is to be mindful of the oil you use for this process.

"The best kind of oil to use is any vegetable oil with no or very little flavor," explains Santibañez. "For example, if you were to use olive oil to fry the chips, the flavor would overwhelm the chip."

Using a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil is also better because it has a higher smoke point. Olive oil will begin to burn and smoke much sooner than other oils, making it difficult and potentially dangerous to work with. It's much easier to control the temperature of vegetable oil and ensure the perfect fry. Santibañez suggests having a thermometer to maintain your oil at the ideal temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, saying your oil should never go above this temperature.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Other Tips For Making Homemade Tortilla Chips

closeup of tortilla chips
closeup of tortilla chips - VECTOR_X/Shutterstock

In addition to being careful with your oil, you must use proper equipment to fry the chips. While a skillet or pan might be ideal for shallow frying, Santibañez says you need a deep pot for the oil — not a pan. "Having all chips submerged will help keep everything even," he explains. Proper cooking equipment prevents you from overcrowding a pan; an overcrowded pan results in uneven cooking and slower frying time.

After frying your chips to a perfect golden appearance, it's important to drain them right away. If they aren't drained, the excess oil will quickly ruin the crisp texture and leave you with a soggy chip. It's also important to season your chips as soon as they come out of the fryer because the seasonings will stick better. Not seasoning after is one of the most common mistakes everyone makes when frying any kind of food. After making your batch of tortilla chips, store them in an airtight container so they won't go stale too quickly. Now, you have delicious chips to enjoy with a bright charred tomato salsa or creamy guacamole.

Read the original article on Tasting Table