Clients request was making mushroom chips. Prior to this, several persons were asking me if they can make crackling or chips out of vegetables. Teach them the trick in case.
First we analyze. Starting with the meat and fish. Every time mom ask us to fry some fresh fish, we set aside some to fry it to brittleness. Basically, after the fish is done and the cooking is continued, more and more water is driven out until it turn brown and brittle. Fish and meat seem to be more enjoyable when it crack in between teeth. The fatty meat portion, the popular pork back-fat, tends to bubble that gives chicharon its characteristic looks.
Now we go on plant-based. The popular for this are corn, rice, potato, banana and cassava. Potato, banana and cassava can be sliced thinly and fried to achieved the desired crisp. The same commodities together with the rest can be ground, reformed and mixed with flavors to create variants. Veggies and fish crackers are made by grinding, mixing with powder (the previous I’ve mentioned) drying, then frying. It may imitate the appearance of pork chicharon depending on trick employed.
The first requirement is obvious. It must be dry. All moisture must be driven out. The covering of chicken leg and nugget can be made crispy but it won’t last long because the inside moisture will sip out and the outside air moisture will come in. The reason why french fries only last for few minutes and one must consume a bag of potato chips immediately after opening. Refrigeration keeps the crisp longer because the equipment sucks away moisture.
The second requirement is starch. All the popular chips have this in common. They are all rich in starch. Rolling chicken leg and shrimp in cornstarch or all purpose flour make them crispy on the outside while maintaining inside juiciness. For just money sake, one can make very cheap cracker by mixing flour, cornstarch, rice powder and flavorings.
There might be other things to consider in meat fatty tissues. However, we are focus on plant-based products at the moment. We will forget about the meat thing.
I observed the mushroom chips in supermarket and grocery stores. All of them are covered with cornstarch. The basic is this. First, the mushroom is dried, then dipped in beaten egg, rolled on cornstarch (or maybe tapioca), then lastly, fried. It might be the only way. But, the roasted peanut seller can make the garlic crispy without adding anything.
I tried series of trial and error and came up with few acceptable results. In the end, they choose the trial covered with egg and starch.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.