“ Brand: Synergy / Type: Small fryer / Filtration system: None / View Window: None / Power: 600W „
When i was a child i was treated every other week to homemade chips. I decided to go out and buy my own chip maker just so i could relive the taste of homemade fried potatoes. I chose this small chip maker as it doesn't take up much kitchen top space, nor does it hurt the eye to look at. The casing feels a little bit flimsy and the wire pan is really small. It says it's a 1.8l pan but i can only ever safely put in about 1.6l before it is at risk of bubbling over the top once the potatoes added. It cooks well if you don't add too much at once, don't overfill the oil and don't leave it in for too long otherwise the food tastes under/over done. As with all friers there comes a small amount of danger but if care is taken then most injuries should be avoided.
Want to know a grim story? Course you do. I have a friend who, when he was a child, used to get a weekly 'treat' of the used cooking oil from the chip pan spread on white bread. He recounts that the best days were when there bits of frazzled chip or charred fish finger suspended in the mix. That he didn't suffer major cardiac arrest by the time he was twelve is testament to the health-giving properties of all that lovely pure Yorkshire air that you get in, um, Wakefield. In a way it's understandable. It was the eighties and deep-frying was the fashion. We had one which was absolutely massive - it could comfortably have accommodated a horse's head - and was encrusted around the outside with old oil (and, if I'm being totally truthful, bits of dog hair and fluff that had become mired in the grease like insects in amber). The vast majority of meals contained at least one deep-fried element; oven chips hadn't been invented yet and no-one cared about saturated fat. And besides, a big plateful of just-fried chips tasted great. By the mid-nineties, though, everyone knew about the negative health factors of deep-fried food. McCain had cornered the oven chips market and learned how to make them taste almost as good as their fattier counterparts. So I never really saw the need to have a chip pan once I was living independently. They're cumbersome, tend to occupy a lot of space on the worktop, smell awful and are a bugger to clean. However, one evening I'd been out with friends and had some really good, freshly-made calamari which made me think how nice it would be to make my own at home. The next day I was in Poundstrecher and saw this nifty little model for less than a tenner and before I'd really thought about it, it was in my basket. ~*~Appearance~*~ This is a really dinky little appliance; it's roughly square shaped and occupies less counter space than my two-slice toaster. It's plain white plastic and therefore will blend in inoffensively in most kitchens. The wire basket is absolutely tiny, with the distinct appearance of a child's toy. Mind you, this is handy for those days when you want to pretend to be a giant. The lid feels quite cheap and flimsy but it does have a small filter to prevent cooking smells and it hasn't come apart in my hands yet. I imagine it wouldn't withstand too many knocks or being stored in such a way that a heavy article was placed on top of it. The handle for the basket clips in a little awkwardly - it needs to be squeezed and manoeuvred into a metal fitting and once there it never seems terribly secure. ~*~Ease of use~*~ Whilst it claims to be a 1.8l fryer, I think it actually holds about 1.5 litres of cooking oil and the minimum and maximum amounts are clearly marked on the inside. This is definitely a fryer for one or two people at most - the basket is so tiny that the average piece of fish will have to be cut in two in order to make it fit. If doing chips I usually batch fry them in two goes as, whilst a full portion will just about fit in the basket, the quantity of oil held by this fryer is so little that a large amount of frozen or cold food will lower the temperature of the oil significantly, resulting in greasy and anaemic-looking grub. For some things, particularly those where you've made the batter yourself, it's often better to place them directly in the oil: fresh batter seems to expand around the mesh of the basket making it very difficult to get the pieces out. The basket itself is quite fiddly and it can be tricky to get it correctly positioned in the little bracket that holds it above the surface of the oil. With the fryer being so small, most of the time it makes better sense just to dispense with the basket and use a slotted spoon to retrieve the food. Like most fried food, it's a good idea to have some kitchen paper handy to drain off the excess oil. The flex length on this is average - not so short that it needs to be within 2 inches of a socket, but not so long that you'll end up with trailing cables that could present a safety issue. Mine is positioned next to the hob so that I can use it underneath the extractor fan. This arrangement seems to work well and I don't end up with the smell of hot oil permeating the whole house. There is a temperature dial on the front but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of variation between the settings. I generally set it to the highest one and keep an eye on it; turning it down slightly if the food browns too quickly. I've cooked chips, battered fish, tempura prawns, falafels and calamari in it and they've all come out thoroughly cooked and really crispy. Mind you, the trick is definitely to remember to cook things in very small batches. Put too much in there and the oil is at risk of bubbling over, the food takes ages to cook and tastes greasy. ~*~Cleaning~*~ This is an area where this fryer falls down. There is not, as far as I can see, a way to remove the part that holds the oil so that it can be drained and scrubbed. Consequently, when you want to clean it you have to tip it upside down to drain the oil and then bring the whole thing over to the sink. This means there's a risk of the electrical components and the plug getting wet so I'm always careful to make sure it has a couple of days to completely dry out befor I plug it in and use it again. ~*~Safety~*~ Whilst it's not outright dangerous, I think most parents would be wary having this in the house with young children: its small size means it would be quite easy for a little'un to pick it up or knock it over. Additionally, there is no warning beep or safety cut out feature if it overheats or has been left on too long. That said, the quantity of oil it contains is so small that in the unlikely event that it caught fire, it would be fairly easy to deal with. Mine hasn't caused any problems at all, although I am very cautious about using it when the cats are around as one of them is a bit thick and the other has a disregard for personal safety not often seen since Evil Knievel first thought that a motorbike and a whole pile of buses made the ideal entertainment spectacle.