Israeli-style fries, or chips as they're called (like in the UK), are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, with a savory flavor throughout. They're made by brining the potatoes, then steaming them before deep frying.Yum
These are the chips you stuff in your pita, along with your falafel or, really, anything else. These are the chips you eat along with the crunch of sand from your fingers at the beach. These are the chips you get in unholy amounts from the steak restaurant even if you didn't ask for them with your order. They are big, loud, and salty. Just like their nation.
Obviously, we all love American bistro-style fries, but Israeli chips have a charm all their own and if you ask me, they edge out the competition. (Maybe nostalgia is the extra seasoning here, but I know I'm right.) I couldn't figure out how to get my fries Israeli-style until I read about a method that Michael Solomonov uses in Israeli Soul. It involves first brining the fries in a solution of salt and vinegar. Then, they get steamed. And then, fried. (He sticks his fries in the freezer overnight to get them extra crisp, but I wanted the opposite effect—soft on the inside—so I skipped the freezing and there it was, Israeli fry perfection.) These don't need any extra seasoning, not even a sprinkle of salt: they turn out so flavorful due to their prolonged dip in the brine.
Brining and steaming the chips
The first step in making the chips is mixing up a brine: a solution of water, vinegar, and salt. You can use any mild vinegar here; I used apple cider, and I think white vinegar would also work well. Then, cut your fries—not too thin, these are Israeli-style!—and soak them in the brine for an hour.
When the hour's up, set up a steamer and once the water in the bottom is boiling and steam starts rising, you can steam all your fries at once, covered, for 20 minutes. They can then go straight from the steamer to the fryer (tongs are handy for this maneuver).
Frying Israeli chips
Because they're steamed, these chips need a little less time then French fries in the fryer. I settled on 350F / 180C as the oil temperature for these, because you want them light golden and just crisped, about 4 minutes. You can leave them in another minute if you'd like them crispier on the outside.
I make these in a deep fryer, but you can absolutely make them in a regular pot (a heavy one like a Dutch oven or a carbon-steel wok work well). Just be sure to pour in enough oil that the fries completely float, at least 2" / 8 cm.
Chips - Israeli-Style Fries (parve)
- Deep fryer or deep pot for frying
- Kitchen thermometer
For the chips:
- 3 Russet potatoes - the large, starchy kind
For the brine:
- 4 cups water
- ⅓ cup white or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 1 quart high-temperature oil, approximately - 1 L
Prepare the brine:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and vinegar. Whisk in the salt until it's mostly dissolved. Set aside.
Cut the fries:
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each half into thick fries, using a chef's knife. Place the cut fries in the brine as you finish slicing them.
Soak in brine:
- Making sure they fries are submerged, set them aside in the brine for an hour on the countertop.
Steam the fries:
- Heat water in the bottom pot of a steamer. Place the fries in the steamer basket, cover, and leave to steam for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a fryer or deep pot until it reaches 350°F / 180°C.
- When the fries are ready—they'll be soft, but firm enough not to break apart—place them, in batches if needed, directly from the steamer into the fryer. (I use tongs for this task.)
- Serve right away.