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It is a high-heat process (usually between 160–190°C) promoting browning and, in some cases, a Maillard reaction. Since the food is only partly submerged, it must be turned over partway through the cooking process. Some cooks recommend cooking the "presentation" side of the food first, since this side will be better browned. Studies have shown that the margarine, virgin olive oil and similar cooking oils oxidize and destabilize substantially when they are shallow-fried, especially when compared to oils used during baking. In turn, a large amount of heat-sensitive nutrients may degrade and antioxidant properties are lost. Shallow frying food may be a healthier alternative to long-term deep-frying processes. The fat soluble vitamins and fatty acids in cooking oils show comparatively reasonable stability when they are used for shallow frying rather than deep frying.
Both deep-fried and shallow-fried foods are often battered, breaded or floured (usually with wheat flour or corn starch) prior to being cooked. The starchy coatings become rigid and porous in structure when they are heated in oil; this is due to their high amylose content. The rigid coating increases the palatability of fried foods by inhibiting moisture loss and creating the desirable ‘crispiness’ trait. Resultantly, foods that are battered and fried are sometimes called “crisp-fried.”
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