In today’s health-conscious environment, deep-fried foods often take a backseat to lower-calorie options. Every so often, however, it is fun to live a little and enjoy some of these delicious foods. As long as you are indulging in a deep-fried treat, you may as well ensure that it tastes perfect. These tips for deep-fat frying will help you get excellent results every time.
Interestingly, deep fat frying falls under the category of dry heat cooking. Even though you use oil, the cooking process doesn’t require water like simmering or poaching, which is why it is considered dry heat.
The tips below will help keep you safe while at the same time allowing you to get delicious results.
One of the keys to successfully deep-frying food is to choose the right oil. Ideally, the oil that you choose should have a high smoke point so that it won’t deteriorate when it reaches the high temperatures required for deep frying. The best oils are sunflower, peanut, canola, or safflower oil.
Your choice of skillet is also important. A deep, heavy-duty skillet is best. Put oil in the bottom of the pan, leaving at least a couple of inches of space at the top. This is important from a safety standpoint. If the pan is too full, the oil could easily bubble over after adding the food. This is why a purpose made deep fat fryer is a better idea. If you want to know more about what to look for then use this detailed guide to choose the best deep fat fryers.
Thoroughly dry the food you are frying before putting it in the pan. You can either set it out on paper towels to allow any moisture to evaporate or you can cover it with a dry coating of bread crumbs or flour. Make sure the coating on the food is dry, as well, by allowing it to sit for about 20 minutes before putting it in the oil.
Once the food is prepared, you can heat the oil. A medium-high heat setting is best. Ideally, you should use a thermometer that is designed for deep-fat frying. The oil temperature should be between 350 and 370°F. You can estimate the temperature of the oil even if you don’t have a thermometer available by cutting a 1-inch piece of bread and putting it in the oil. Time how long it takes for the bread to brown. If it takes approximately a minute, that means that the oil is about 365°F.
Avoid putting too much food in the pan. Make sure there is plenty of space around each item that is cooking. This will give you more even results. If you pile too much food into the pan, it will lower the temperature of the oil. Then, instead of getting crisp, the food will soak up the oil.
Keep a close eye on the pan while the food is cooking. If necessary, adjust the temperature so that the oil stays between 350 and 375°F. As soon as the food is browned, it is ready to take out of the pan. Use a slotted spoon to remove it so that any excess oil will drain. Make sure the spoon has a long handle. Set the finished food on a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil.
If you have more frying to do, try putting the finished food in the oven at a temperature of about 200°F. This will keep it from cooling off while you finish the rest.
From a safety standpoint, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t mix oil and water. Never place water in hot oil. Adding water to the mixture will lead to an explosion. If the oil starts smoking or if the pan catches on fire, place a lid or cookie sheet over it to douse the fire. Sprinkling baking soda on grease fires may also help. Just use caution so that you don’t cause the flames to spread.
Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher available in your kitchen. Make sure you know how to use it so that you can respond quickly in an emergency.
Cooking oil should not be reused despite what some people say. Even if you strain it, the oil has already been partially broken down by exposure to heat. This causes trans fats and other unhealthy compounds to form. The best option is to allow the oil to thoroughly cool and then to throw it away