Well, since I don’t exactly do this for the money (Blogging pays crap, kids, so don’t say I didn’t warn you), I decided I’m more or less safe from this kind of scrutiny. Yes, there exists plenty of potential for a blogger such as myself to make money off of my brand, but in all seriousness, the likelihood of just blogging constituting any sort of a respectable second income is pretty much zero. So, by being blatantly honest, I don’t really have much to lose, save for maybe a few missed food and cookware-related test samples (but let’s face it, if companies are put off by a possible bad review, their product probably isn’t all that fantastic anyway) and a little bit of grocery money. Yeah, my integrity’s worth a little more than that. So, here I go, down a potentially slippery slope to blog suicide. Or success. It’s really anybody’s guess.
Now that I’ve gotten that nastiness out of the way, it’s with a clear conscience that I can review Trader Joe’s Rice Bran Oil (certified OU pareve). This is a new product for them, and quite frankly, I’m very happy to see it now in the US. I have not yet encountered other US brands that make this kind of oil, so I will speak from a strictly technical point of view here, since I don’t have anything else in recent memory to which I can compare it. However, I’m pleased to say that I’m really liking this product.
The product of rice germ, the oil is very light, and advertises an extremely high smoke point; somewhere in excess of 400 degrees Fahrenheit (the label boasts 431, whereas more conservative estimates put it around 415…but still!). I put this oil to the test making a batch of Eggplant Parmesan (I’ll give an approximate “recipe” before this review’s through), in which I sliced, salted, breaded, and fried the eggplant in the rice bran oil.
The flavor was very pleasantly mild and unobtrusive, and didn’t leave a heavy, greasy, residue. And, true to advertising, deep frying with it was virtually worry-free, as I did not have to skate the thin line of “hot enough,” and “too hot,” (aka, OMG! It’s smoking!) something that gets a little tricky with an electric stove. Although I really like peanut oil for high-heat applications, there are issues with it, namely allergies for some, and the faint taste and smell of peanuts it imparts on food. I’m fine with both of these “drawbacks,” but I have to say, I’m quite impressed with this rice bran oil.
The clincher for me is rice bran oil’s nutritional properties. No doubt, you’ve probably noticed the statement on the label, “8,000 PPM Oryzanol.” Well, in this case, it actually turns out to be a good thing. Oryzanol is an antioxidant, which we are told that we need more of, apparently. However, unlike antioxidants that exist in other oils, this particular one (or, at least as it naturally exists in rice bran oil) is remarkably stable, even at very high temperatures. Where the antioxidants in olive oil, canola oil, and other oils break down once the oil is heated, rice bran oil’s antioxidants remain relatively constant, for the most part. Additionally, studies on rice bran oil positively link it to improving cholesterol levels, decreasing hot flashes during menopause, and a myriad of other usefully healthy things, ranging from decreasing stomach acidity to inhibiting excessive platelet aggregation. And, anecdotally speaking, it seems to get you pretty regular pretty fast. But not in a bad way. *ahem*
So, given all of these fantastic things that go along with rice bran oil, the question really is, why not cook with it? As far as cooking oils go, it’s one of the more inexpensive oils (as opposed to olive oil, for instance, which is prized for its characteristic flavor), but unlike other inexpensive oils, it’s so much healthier. All in all, this is something I’m keeping in my pantry, and will use often.
Here’s the approximate recipe for my…
serves about 6
2 large-ish eggplants, sliced to about 1/4 of an inch
rice flour or corn starch
egg whites, beaten
Rice Bran Oil
truffle oil (optional)
1) In a large colander, place a layer of eggplant slices, and sprinkle with salt to lightly coat the slices (don’t worry, the salt is there to draw out the bitterness, and will not make the eggplant excessively salty). Continue adding layers and salting them until you’ve salted all of the slices. Let the eggplant sit (preferably over a sink) for about 45 minutes to an hour.
2) Squeeze each eggplant slice until it’s dry. You may opt to squeeze the excess moisture out between sheets of paper towel, but squeezing in your fist is fine (you don’t need to be gentle most of the time). Put eggplant slices on a plate while you get the rest of the slices squeezed. Meanwhile, heat up about an inch and a half of rice bran oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or pot for deep frying (between 325° – 400°).
3) Place rice flour or corn starch, egg whites, and panko crumbs into their own bowls. Take each slice and dip into egg white, rice flour/starch, back into egg whites, and then coat thoroughly with panko crumbs. Gently place each slice into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them. Flip the slices over when one side is browned, and place finished slices onto paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Repeat until all the slices are done in this way.
4) Oil the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan (I used truffle oil for extra flavor, but you can use any flavorful oil of your choice). Place a layer of eggplant, some marinara sauce, some mozzarella cheese (I cube mine because it results in a creamier melt. I find shreds tend to become rubbery), and lots of parmesan cheese. Repeat the layering, ending with a layer of eggplant and cheese. I don’t particularly like the eggplant saucy (I prefer to keep the slices as crispy as I can until serving), but use your best judgement here. You can always add more later. Place into a preheated 400° oven and bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let it sit for about 10 – 15 minutes to cool. Serve with a side of spaghetti with additional sauce.Pin It