There’s no question that deep-frying can be a little intimidating. And, for many, frying, to you, only means one thing: fatty, greasy food. But that’s just not true when deep-frying is done properly. If you’ve never anointed anything in a bubbling cauldron of shiny oil, man, you are missing out on some seriously good eats. That said, hot oil is nothing to mess with – it is a serious business, so attention must be paid.
If you follow a few basic rules and guidelines, you’ll achieve exactly what deep-frying delivers: food that’s crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Here are a few tips to help you conquer your fear of the fry and master this key technique at home.
First things first: Oil.
Choose wisely, my friend. Select an oil with a high smoke point and one that doesn’t detract from the flavor of the food you’re frying, like canola, peanut or safflower oil.
Secondly, choose the right pot.
No, you don’t need to invest in an expensive deep-fryer to get great results at home – all you need is a large, heavy-bottomed pot with tall sides (I use my Le Creuset Dutch oven), which will allow you to keep the oil temperature steady.
Never fill your pot more than half way with oil. As the food cooks, the oil will bubble up as steam escapes from the food. Leaving at least 4 inches of headspace between the top of the oil and the top of the pot will help prevent oil from overflowing onto the stove.
You’ve heard the saying, “like oil and water,” right? Well, water is oil’s worst enemy and can actually cause an explosion. Make sure to pat foods dry before frying since drops of moisture can cause splattering. If you’re using a batter, be sure to shake off any excess batter before submerging in hot oil.
Third, buy a deep-fry thermometer.
It’s essential for successful frying. Nothing will guarantee greasy results than oil that’s not hot enough. And, conversely, if the oil is too hot, the likely result will be food that’s burnt on the outside but still raw on the inside. A deep-fry thermometer, available at kitchen stores, precisely monitors the oil’s temperature to ensure that neither one of those disappointing scenarios happens.
More useful tips:
- It’s important to work in small batches for several reasons: The temperature of the oil decreases as soon as you add food to it. Food needs room to swim around in the hot oil, so don’t overcrowd your pot.
- Gently lower the food into the hot oil; never plop it in or drop it from high up.
- Use a splatter screen to help protect you and to keep your stove clean.
- The best tool for lifting food from hot oil is a spider – a skimmer that’s a spoon and strainer in one with a long wooden handle. Also use it to scoop out any particles that collect in the frying oil since they can increase chance of fire.
Armed with these tips and techniques, you’ll safely be on your way to frying like a pro and producing some tasty fried food full of flavor.