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Nyonya Delicacies

Deep Frying

(Newsletter Issue #005)


How to deep fry foods

To cook completely submerged in hot oil. Deep-frying is the quickest way to cook some foods and, as a result, often seems to seal in the flavors of food better than any other technique. Deep-fried at the proper temperature, foods absorb little oil and are surprisingly light. A coating of flour or a light breading also helps prevent foods from absorbing oil. But if the oil is too hot, foods will brown too quickly and stay raw in the middle. If the oil isn't hot enough, the foods will sit in the oil too long and absorb too much oil.


Foods cut into larger pieces should be fried at a lower temperature so the heat has time to penetrate all the way through. A deep-frying thermometer is the easiest way to make sure your oil is at the right temperature, but if you're in a pinch, you can judge the oil by how certain foods behave. When the oil is too cool for frying, foods sink to the bottom and stay there. In somewhat hotter oil (but still not hot enough to fry in), foods sink to the bottom and then slowly rise to the top. The oil is at the right temperature when the food doesn't drop all the way to the bottom when it is added and then bobs back to the surface within a second or two.


When the oil is too hot, food immediately float, remaining on the surface, surrounded with bubbles. Of course, these aren't hard and fast rules. The final stage of frying French fries, for instance, requires oil that's hot enough to immediately surround the potatoes with bubbles. Frying a whole fish may require oil that's cooler than for most other purposes.


Coating also affect the texture of deep-fried food. French fries require no coating at all to brown, but other foods, especially fish and shellfish, benefit from a light coating of flour, to give them an almost imperceptible crunch. Cooks debate endlessly over how fried chicken should be coated. Some championing flour alone, while others swear by a batter.


Vegetables often benefit from a very light batter of flour and water or flour and club soda. Very moist vegetables, such as tomatoes, are best when coated with egg and bread crumbs. Breaded veal and chicken cutlets are sometimes deep-fried, but they have much better flavor when sautéed in butter or olive oil.


Safety tips : Remember that frying oil is extremely hot and can cause painful burns.

  • Use a deep-fryer, electric frying pan, or heavy pot for deep-frying.

  • Never fill a deep-fryer or other pot for frying more than two thirds full with oil. When you add foods, the oil may boil over.

  • Make sure that foods are dry (except for batter, of course), before plunging them into the hot oil. Wet foods may cause the oil to spatter or boil over.

  • Don't put foods in the oil with your hands because the oil may splash up and burn you. Instead use a spoon, fry basket, or for large items, tongs.

  • If you must use your hands, hold the food close to the surface of the oil and let it slide gently into the oil so it doesn't splash you.

  • Keep the hot frying oil on the back of the stove or somewhere else out of harm's way. Don't let any long handles reach out where you can bump into them.

  • Keep a box of baking soda handy to extinguish any fire.

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