Special Feature

ALIF KITCHEN SERIES: Know your Karipap and how to fry ‘em

by Lisa K. Photography FriedChillies on Sun, May 27, 2018

There is an art to deep frying. Temperature and quality of cooking oil used plays a big part in producing that golden brown, crunchy effect that makes people crave for fried food. Minyak ALIF helps you achieve that.

A good oil makes a world of difference!

A good Karipap with just the right amount of filling and perfectly crisp skin, with a right crunch as you bite into is a thing of beauty. Although fans of Karipap are many, it’s not that common to find a good Karipap nowadays. Many have encountered ‘karipap angin’ where you bite in and it’s just a gaping hole. Some Karipap are not fried well, wither too oily/soggy, or too crispy with a raw inner layer. Often times a perfectly made Karipap gets spoiled when you don’t know how to control your oil properly.

The right oil is important for good deep-frying.

First, let’s get to know the different kinds of Karipap out there. Pastry made of wheat flour, stuffed with a meat or vegetable filling, folded into half-moon shapes can be found the world over. The Brits have Cornish Pasties, the Spaniards have Empanadas, and down south they call it Epok-epok.

Your everyday Karipap is a little smaller than the palm of your hand and something you can eat in two or three bites. It has many types of filling – beef, chicken, potato and sardines being the most popular option.

L-R clockwise: your everyday karipap, karipap gulung, karipap kobis

The pastry itself has many versions – a plain version, the swirl version (Karipap Pusar) and the rolled version (Karipap Gulung). There is also an almost extinct cabbage version (Karipap Kobis). It is not made of cabbages, only the layers which gives it the cabbage-like effect. Basically is a Karipap wrapped in a Karipap, and wrapped in a Karipap. It goes on for a few layers, just like a Matryoshka Doll.

Filling needs to be just the right amount, about 70%. You don’t want exploding karipap when frying.

A Karipap’s dough should be thin, light, slightly crunchy and not at all doughy. The key to a good pastry is plain flour mixed with margarine or hot oil. Somehow using butter does not give the same result from margarine or hot oil. The dough should be kneaded to work the gluten and rested for at least 15 minutes to half an hour so it is pliable enough to roll and pleat the edges.

So pretty!

You’d be tempted to stuff as much filling as possible into a Karipap but in reality, more filling means more moisture, which makes it hard for the pastry to stay crunchy after it is cooked. The trend that started a few years ago is to put a ¼ or ½ of a hardboiled egg together with the filling. This is usually done for Karipap sold during tea time which is great snack to carry you on till dinner time.

The very popular egg-in-karipap for added protein.

The best to cook Karipap is to deep fry them. Oils like Minyak ALIF which is pure vegetable cooking oil, is perfect for frying Karipap because it has a high smoke point. This means that you can deep-fry at a high temperature without the oil turning rancid. Now the trick is to start frying Karipap with warm oil and slowly let it rise up to frying temperature. As unlikely as this might sound, frying this way for Karipap does not make it soggy, rather this gradual method allows the pastry to cook through and crunch up by the time it turns golden brown.

Begin frying with warm oil for crunchy pastry.

Let the oil come up to temperature and continue frying until golden brown.

Karipap fried with hot oil from the beginning tends to be a bit harder and sometimes the pastry is still raw, especially the pleats. If there is a second or third batch to fry, you need to off the heat and let the oil cool down slightly before starting again. That is a trip from a Karipap pro.