Tips For Deep-Frying
Deep-frying is such a guilty pleasure because no cooking technique gives food that irresistible crunchiness. Because it is also one of the least frequently used cooking methods, here are some important tips to help you achieve Deep-frying nirvana.
Choose the right pot. To deep-fry properly, the food should cook in 2 to 3 inches of hot oil. Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches deep to allow for bubbling without bubbling over. Cast iron (enameled or not) holds the heat well, which makes a good choice.
Use reasonably priced cooking oil. Canola, cottonseed, safflower, or a generic vegetable oil blend will all do. Much is made of the smoke point of oil (the temperature where the oil starts to smoke and break down) for deep-frying, and expensive peanut oil is often singled out as being especially desirable (watch those peanut allergies). Food should not be deep fried at temperatures above 400-degrees because it will burn before it has a chance to cook through. Most refined clear cooking oils have a smoke point of about 425-degrees (except for olive oil), so if you are deep frying at the correct temperature, the oil’s smoke point is not an issue.
Don’t reuse deep frying oil. This is another reason to use reasonably priced oil. Although you can strain the cooled oil for another round or two of deep-frying, this is a sure way of transferring unwanted flavors to your food, and the freshness of the oil obviously is reduced with storage. You don’t want to cook your tortilla chips in the same oil you used for cooking fish and chips. Just budget the price of the oil into the cost of the recipe, throw away after using, and leave it at that.
Use a deep-frying thermometer. It’s the only way to get an accurate reading of the oil temperature. Be sure the end of the thermometer is totally submerged in the oil. Keep the heat on high to maintain the correct oil temperature.
To reduce deep-frying odors, cook outside if possible. There is no reliable way to avoid the odors caused by deep-frying inside. But when the weather is cooperating, plug in an electric kettle and do your frying on your porch or patio.
Let the oil return to its correct frying temperature between batches. In most cases, you may add the food to 375-degree oil, but the temperature will drop to 335-degrees or so for the actual cooking. After removing the food, be sure to reheat the oil over high heat to its original starting temperature.
Use a wire skimmer to remove food from the oil. Also called a spider, these wide-mesh skimmers do a better job of draining away oil than a slotted spoon or slotted skimmer. They are commonly used in Asian cooking, so look for them at kitchenware stores near the woks.
Don’t drain fried foods on paper. Most people use paper towels or brown paper bags to absorb the fat from drained foods. A crunchy coating can soften where it comes into contact with the paper because the steam builds up at the contact point and has nowhere to go but into the coating. For the crispiest result, drain the food on a wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, so the food comes into contact only with thin wires.
Keep deep-fried foods warm in the oven before serving. Deep-fried food is best served piping hot right out of the pot, which isn’t always possible when cooking multiple batches. Once you have put the food on the wire rack and baking sheet setup, slip the whole thing into a preheated 200-degree oven for up to 10 minutes.
Add salt JUST before serving. Salt can soften homemade potato chips and other fried foods, so to keep them from losing their crunch, sprinkle on the salt at the last minute.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen