Chef Ben Vaughn Discusses Cooking Oils and Their Relative Smoke Points
Chef Ben Vaughn is a restaurant owner and acclaimed chef doing business in Memphis, Tennessee. Chef Ben Vaughn relies on varied forms of professional cooking knowledge. One of the most important bodies of knowledge in cooking, says Chef Ben Vaughn, are the facts pertaining to cooking oil. Different cooking oils, explains Chef Ben Vaughn, are more suited to different cooking situations.
Sesame oil for example, says Chef Ben Vaughn, has a very unique flavor and is probably not the right cooking oil for an Italian meal. When gathering supplies for a recipe, suggests Chef Ben Vaughn, read about and experiment with different cooking oils. Chef Ben Vaughn says that knowing the smoke point of different oils is key.
Smoke point, explains Chef Ben Vaughn, is the temperature at which certain oil begins smoking. At this temperature, says Chef Ben Vaughn, the oil will begin to burn and break down. When oil burns, the fats and nutritional components that make the oil unique begin to break apart. Chef Ben Vaughn says that cooking oil that has surpassed its smoke point loses the integrity of its flavor, commonly referred to as flavor degradation.
Flavor degradation is just the beginning, adds Chef Ben Vaughn. If oil gets too hot, Chef Ben Vaughn explains that the burnt oil can actually yield carcinogens and become harmful to health. If oil has a low smoke point, it must only be cooked at low temperatures or not at all.
Oils with low smoke points, continues Chef Ben Vaughn, are well suited to salad dressings and flavoring already prepared meals. Examples of oils with low smoke points are walnut oil and extra virgin olive oil. If oil has a high smoke point, it is better for hotter cooking jobs like pan-frying.