Fat recipes refer to foods that are cooked using fat as one of the main ingredients. Different foods use fat in different ways, as the purpose of using this ingredient varies with the way the dish is cooked. Fats play a vital role in our diet as they contain essential fatty acids, which are crucial for our body. However, it is also important to understand that excessive use of the ingredient is not advisable as it would only result in being stored in our body as fat tissue leading to obesity. The foods we eat contain both saturated and unsaturated fats, which behave differently under differing temperatures and climatic conditions and both of them have different uses in cooking. All the cuisines across the world have courses that include fat recipes.
History of Fat
Fat recipes have always played a major role in the culinary world, since time immemorial. However, there are no records to state when fat was first used for cooking, but since there was no technological advancement in the early days, people used to use animal fat i.e., lard from animals such as hogs. Raw fat used to be trimmed from the animals and then boiled to separate the watery part from the real fat, which was then cooled. This by- product of rendering was known as ‘crackling’, which was used for cooking fat recipes.
Types of Fats and their Culinary Uses
Fat recipes not only include fat as a cooking ingredient, but also as an ingredient that brings on the flavor and color of foods that are either stir fried, sautéed, shallow fried, deep fried, baked, blended, etc. There are two types of fats used in the culinary world, which are edible animal fats such as lard, fish oil, butter, and ghee, while the second group being edible plant fats or oils that are extracted from soya bean, peanuts, sunflower, coconut, olive and vegetables. Fats such as oils are also used for pickling, and preserving foods. Various courses of all the cuisines across the world have fat recipes.
Most Common Fats and Fat Recipes
Fat recipes are common in all the cuisines in some form or the other. Some common fats used in our daily cooking are animals fats such as lard (made from pork and beef), fish oil, butter and ghee (made from cow and buffalo milk). These animal fats generally result in foods that are rich, but for recipes that need to be lighter, there are fats/oils that are extracted from various parts of plants. Some common fats of plant origin are peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
Some common fat recipes are –
- Baked Foods – Cakes are among the most common baked foods. Depending on the recipe, cakes generally use either an animal fat or plant fat, which is also known as shortening in the baking world. When fats are used for baking, they not only add flavor, but help in adding volume, softness and moistness to the cake, irrespective of the type of cake. Other baked foods are casseroles, cookies, etc.
- Stir Fried Recipes – Stir fried foods are common to Chinese, Italian, Latin American cuisines, wherein most of the vegetarian and meat dishes are stir fried in a little fat such as butter or in oil, usually a vegetable oil. In such fat recipes, usually the ingredients are pre-boiled and then stir fried to brown the ingredients with the inclusion of certain other ingredients.
- Shallow Fried Foods – When a food is fried partially immersed in hot oil, it results in well cooked, yet not totally crispy food. One such popular dish is fried fish, wherein marinated fish is shallow fried in a little oil.
- Deep Fried Foods – When food is fried totally immersed in hot oil, it results in crispy foods, for e.g.: chips, pakodas, crispies, etc. Such fat recipes are generally accompanied with various dips.
Health Benefits of Fat and Fat Recipes
Fat recipes as part of our daily diet play a vital role for our biological system. Fat is an essential ingredient that not only helps to digest food, but also absorb and transport various vitamins such as A, D, E and K as these vitamins are fat soluble. Other than playing this role of absorbing and transporting the vitamins, fats also contain essential fatty acids which are again very important for our body. Including fat recipes in our everyday diet helps nourish our hair and skin, keeping them healthy. Other health benefit of including fat recipes as part of our daily diet is that fat acts as a safeguard or buffer against lots of diseases. In such cases, when there is presence of a harmful chemical substance or a biotic in our blood stream, the same is absorbed by the fat and stored as fat tissue in our body. This way all vital organs of our body are protected. With so many health benefits, it is imperative that every cuisine include some well balanced fat recipes.