Cooking by Pan-Frying

Cooking by Pan-Frying

The object of pan-frying is to produce a flavorful exterior with a crisp, brown crust, which acts as a barrier to retain juices and flavor. Because the product itself is not browned, the flavor will be different than if the item has been sauteed. The proper color depends upon the type of item, the coating that is used and, to a certain extent, the item's thickness. The color of relatively thin and delicate meats, fish, shellfish, and poultry should be golden to amber. Thicker pieces may take on a deeper color, resulting from the longer cooking time. In all cases, the product should not be extremely pale. As with sauteing, a lack of color indicates that improper heat levels or the incorrect pan size were used.

Only naturally tender foods should be pan-fried and, after cooking, the product should still be tender and moist. Excessive dryness means the food was allowed to overcook, was cooked too far in advance and held too long, or was cooked at a temperature higher than required.

Although this technique shares similarities with sauteing, it has some important differences. Whereas a sauteed item is often lightly dusted with flour and quickly cooked over high heat in a small amount of oil, a pan-fried food is usually coated with batter or breaded and cooked in a larger amount of oil over less-intense heat. The product is cooked more by the oil's heat than by direct contact with the pan. In pan-frying, the hot oil seals the food's coated surface and thereby locks the natural juices inside instead of releasing them. Because no juices are released and a larger amount of oil is involved, any accompanying sauce is made separately.

More Cooking Guide

Visitors Currently Online: 13