Cooking food by completely immersing it in
hot fat is a technique used all around the world. Deep-fat frying produces
wonderfully crisp, flavorful foods and is perfect for preparing foods that
don't have a dense or fibrous structure, such as fish, shellfish and
vegetables. While there is no arguing that fried foods can taste greasy,
if you actually measure the oil after frying, you will find that you
typically lose no more than a few tablespoons of fat for about a pint of
Choosing a frying oil - look for an
oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, soybean or safflower oil.
Safflower tends to have the lightest taste.
Choosing a frying pan or pot - choose
a pot that's larger than the burner you'll be cooking on and never fill it
more than half-full of oil. Oil catches fire easily and a large pot helps
avoids spills. make sure that you have at least 3" between the surface of
the oil and the top of the pot. If oil should drip or spill, turn off the
heat and clean the spill before proceeding.
Keeping the oil at proper frying
temperature - use a candy thermometer. This tool makes frying a cinch.
Add the food the instant that the oil reaches the correct temperature
(usually 365o to 375oF), and maintain that
temperature throughout the frying. Also, bring the oil back to the proper
temperature before adding more batches of food. If you fry often, invest
in an electric deep fryer and follow the manufacturer's directions as this
is a foolproof way to maintain temperature control. Or try this tip if you
have neither a candy thermometer nor an electric fryer, put a cube of
bread into the oil. If it browns all over in less than a minute's time,
your oil has gotten too hot.
To ensure even cooking - avoid
crowding the pot. The oil should bubble up freely around each piece and
the pieces should never touch each other while they're frying. Crowding
the pot may cause the temperature of the oil to drop too low. Also, be
sure to remove food in the exact order it was added.
Draining fried foods - drain well by
holding each piece over the pot as you remove it, letting any oil drip
back into the pot. Then, set the fried food on a cooking rack set over a
baking sheet that is lined with paper towels. As fried foods drain, keep
them warm by putting them and the draining rack in a
200oF oven while you continue frying.
Handling oil that has begun to smoke too
much - discard it and start over. Smoke indicates burned oil, which
will give fried foods an unpleasant flavor.
Discarding oil that has already been used
- allow the hot oil to cool before moving the pot and disposing of the
Recycling fat after deep-frying -
cool it, then clarify it by straining it through a paper coffee filter.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Empty peanut cans or
coffee cans are good containers. Frying fat can be recycled 2 or 3 times
before it becomes unusable.
To avoid burning your hands - Always
use a pair of tongs to place foods into hot fat.
To avoid splatters - invest in an
inexpensive splatter screen, available in most stores' cookware sections,
or cover the food with a large mesh sieve. make sure that the food does
not have water on it before adding it to the hot fat. It also helps to
gently submerge and remove the food individually with a long-handled
Dousing a fat fire in a pan - place a
lid over it or using baking soda which will also put out a fat fire.
Avoiding a fishy flavor - when frying
a variety of foods that include seafood, fry the fish or seafood last.
Otherwise, once the oil has absorbed the fish aroma, it will flavor the
other foods that are cooked in it and make them smell fishy.
To avoid oil from blackening when
deep-frying - add a wedge of carrot, which will act as a magnet for
black flecks that can accumulate when deep-frying.
Alternative to deep-oil frying -
oven-fry them instead. The technique of frying food in hot fat can be
simulated by using a hot oven and coating the surface of the food with a
film of fat. Coat the food with batter, if using. Then, coat the food
generously with cooking spray. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at
475oF until brown and crisp. Oven-frying makes delicious