Who-rench Who-ries – Garlic French Fries with Spicy Marinara

garlic and red pepper fries with spicy marinara
As much as my Dad probably wishes that potatoes come from China, he does recognize the potato’s origin in South America. And if the potato shows up in any recognizable format on the dinner table, he always likes to test us. He asks us “Do you know where the potato comes from?” and we have to answer “Ireland,” because I just can’t imagine how disappointed he would be if he couldn’t lean back in his chair putting his hands behind his head, and sucking in a long, deep breath through his teeth before he goes into “See, Ireland is the common belief of so many people, but potatoes actually come from…” And even though he has asked this of us at least 450 times, he’s a brilliant Enlightener, dispelling some great myth for us every time, for the very first time. I’m sure he loves it, so even though I know I know I know at least 449 times over where potatoes really come from, I still always answer with…Ireland.

Potatoes on our dinner table were usually braised in soy sauce with carrots and beef shortribs as part of galbee jjim, maybe a baked potato if we were having steak, and often in linguine with white clam sauce (Potatoes in our seafood pasta? Yeah, don’t ask.) Rarely did we ever have French fries and even if ever we kids were that lucky, they were from McBurger’s. I’m sure it just seemed to Mom like way too much effort to deep fry French fries at home. But it’s surprising that Dad didn’t try harder to get us to eat who-rench who-ries, sometimes prench pries, just to train our Korean tongues to say “f,” and twice at that!

A stroll through the farmers’ market reveals lots of teeny tiny, beautifully creamy, colorful varieties of potatoes, but the best potato for making French fries is big, fat, blotchy brown and quite boring. I leave the potato’s history to Dad and the science of why Idaho russet to food nerds like Alton Bown. Probably something to do with starch molecules, but don’t ask me. I had to take organic chemistry twice at Cal. And only passed the second time by the skin of my teeth. *phew!*

I love how debates about French fry thin/thick-ness rages on. From the lightly delicate crispness of shoestrings, to the fast-food standard quarter inch, to the soft, meaty wedges that accompany a Kansas City filet. It’s a deep-focking-fried potato for fox ache! They all taste good, and you know you’re going to eat any French fry that is placed in front of you. But cooking at home, I do whatever is easiest for me to cut by hand, and that’s between a quarter and a half inch thick. And I swear I’m not lazy – for some reason, leaving the skins on makes French fries seem healthier. Uh, right.

It seems like a bit of trouble, but according to almost every recipe I’ve seen, French fries should be fried twice. The first blistering bath at 325 degrees cooks the potatoes through. Then at higher 375, the outside gets crisp and tan. Simple salt and Heinz ketchup will always be classic, and I’m never one to toy with tradition, but garlic and crushed red pepper sure looks nice in the picture! *chuckle* Good thing it tastes good, too.

It’s (ab) crunch time before the “w” thing now *raising fist into air*, so that’s the last of frying I’m going to do for the next three weeks. *sigh* Thanks to Linda from At Our Table for hosting IMBB no 18 – Summer’s Flying, Let’s Get Frying! Gosh, I really hope the next IMBB is on…salads? ;)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Oliver September 4, 2005 at 9:21 pm

Hi Sarah,

The *high five’s!* are fully reciprocated ;) – thank you for your kind words.

On the french fries front, those look majorly delicious. We don’t have french fries too often, except when we try to make good use of a warm evening (we’re having a lousy summer here) in a near by beer-garden. But those really aren’t all that great, yours however I could dive in head first…


2 sarah September 6, 2005 at 7:53 pm

la cheesemonger: they are plain old big fat brown idaho russets. easiest to clean, cut, and they certainly do make the best prench pry. saw the la times, yes. and until after the “w” thing, no burgers. no fries. probably nothing eciting enough to post on the delicious life. i love cold tofu and salad, but it migh tget boring to read about that for three meals a day, every day. LOL!

hello oliver! thanks for popping in and the sweet words about the fries!


3 e d b m September 6, 2005 at 8:52 pm

those look great as usual sarah. it really reminds me of the dodger stadium/gordon biersch fries. i always prefer those over dodger dogs haha.

have you ever been to GR/Eats on sawtelle? they’ve got a pretty creative appetizer… mixed fries consisting of yams, fries and bananas… it’s quite delectable.


4 sarah September 6, 2005 at 8:56 pm

hey dylan! actually, i think the very first garlic fries i ever had were those gordon biersch fries – how funny is that?!?! i loved that it was raw, fresh garlic just dumped right on top. lol!

and no, haven’t yet been to gr/eats. but the mixed fries thing i’ve seen a few places – beechwood has sweet potato, taro and regulaur thick and shoestrings with a whole slew of dips.


5 sarah September 6, 2005 at 9:33 pm

the light colored chopped bits are garlic, and i swear i smelled like garlic for DAYS after…the seed like things and the red – that’s the crushed red pepper. didn’t do that myself. that’s straight out of a little bottle that i use when eating pizza at home. crushed red pepper and sriracha on my pizza, lol!


6 e d b m September 7, 2005 at 4:19 am

haha sriracha pizza yum. when i was a poor college student, i had sriracha hot dogs. heavenly.


7 sarah September 11, 2005 at 4:15 am

i’m tellin’ ya’…i just know sriracha will take over salsa as the number one condiment in the u.s. someday… ;)


8 Tom October 8, 2006 at 6:56 pm

Thanks for the tip on Idaho Russetts, Sarah! I got a professional french fry cutter (I like skinny fries) from Hardisty’s in Santa Rosa, so now I’m all set.

Go Cal!

tom hart


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