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Q&A

Does the way of chopping the potatoes influence the way they get fried later on?

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I'm a big fan of the Spanish omelette, which is called 'Tortilla de patatas' (potato omelette) in Spanish.

To prepare them, one of the first steps is to peel the potatoes and then cut them into slices. Once this is done, you need to stew them in a pan with hot olive oil.

The way the potatoes are stewed marks most of the final taste: if they are fried properly, the taste will be good. If you fry them too fast, then they will not be properly done in the inside and be a bit strong.

For this, I have sometimes heard about a trick: when cutting the potatoes, some recommend to stop the knife a bit before finishing the cut, and complete it with the hand. That is, say 80% of the cutting is done with the knife and the last part is done by just pulling the two parts.

However, I don't know the rationale of this. Some investigation suggests that the starch ('almidón' in Spanish) is released differently this way, but I am not sure if this is the real point.

Does anyone know if this is true? Or, most generally, is the way we chop a potato relevant to its final taste after cooking?

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Feel free to improve the wording on verbs usage (1 comment)

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There are lots of varieties of potato that cover a large range of starch content, sweetness, flavors and textures. The type of potato used will be a bigger influence on the final dish than the way in which they are cut.

That said, the technique you describe (incomplete cutting followed by ripping) will release more starch from each potato than if they were completely cut. Cuts made with a sharp knife rupture fewer cells. The more free-floating starch can affect the texture of the dish, and frying the released starch will tend to increase the Maillard reactions, which will change the flavor to a deeper, more complex profile.

Similar effects could be obtained by smashing some of the potato slices, or treating them more roughly in the pan, or by using a different variety of potato with more starch.

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Wow, that's a great insight! The last paragraph made me remember that I heard that some people sugges... (1 comment)

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