The Art of Deep Frying – Things you need to know about deep frying.
The art of deep-frying is probably one of the most dreaded cooking methods even though we all love perfectly fried foods – crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. This same kitchen technique has been shunned by most cooks, including the experienced ones. Most people are afraid of this technique because at some point in their cooking life, they must have experienced the splattering and splashing of hot oil while deep-frying. If you do not know how to control the heat of the oil, you might end up making oily, greasy and unappetizing foods. Here are my tips and tricks that make deep-frying easier and a lot less intimidating.
The perfect oil is key
The key is using cooking oil that has a high smoke point. Smoke point is the temperature when the oil begins to smoke. You might be tempted to use extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil but with its low oil and distinctive flavor but it’s not the best option. Rather, vegetable oil as all-purpose oil as it has a high smoke point, a neutral flavor and is super economical. Peanuts, grape seed, soy bean, canola are other good options.
The perfect temperature for deep frying is between 300°F (150°C)-360°F(180°C). Deep-frying within this range of temperature will make sure that foods are cooked properly – the outside of the food will be browned evenly while the inside remains tender and juicy. The deep-fried food will become crispy but not too oily. The oil penetration is confined to the surface of the food and the moisture content of the ingredient is not lost. I always deep-fry at 350°F(175°C). If the oil temperature is too hot, the outside of the food will overcook quickly but the inside will be undercooked. Another way to determine whether or not the oil is at the right temperature is to drop in a cube of bread – if it browns within 60 seconds, you’re good to go.
Overcrowding Is not Cute
Overcrowding your deep-fryer or pot will lower the oil’s temperature, which can result in food that’s not properly deep-fried; you then end up with half-cooked food. Think of it as taking a shower with too many people in the bathtub with you…The food needs to be able to move around and flip on its own.
Keep it dry at all times
Water and oil definitely don’t mix. You’ll want to keep your work station as dry as possible – if any water got into the hot oil, the combination could cause an explosion. Make sure to pat dry all of the foods you’re planning on putting into the deep fryer. Food with excessive moisture or water is the number one reason for splattering. You can use a large stockpot (instead of a wok or stir-fry pan) for deep frying. A deep stockpot can help prevent excessive splattering. If you are deep-frying food coasted with a wet batter, add some oil into the batter before deep-frying. The oil helps loosen up the food so it doesn’t clump and stick together. Want extra crispy battered foods? Increase the temperature of the oil and return the food into the wok or stockpot and deep-fry a second time.
Always drain excess oil
Remove the fried food with a strainer or slotted spoon and drain the excess oil by placing it on a wire rack. Alternatively, you can also place the food in a dish lined with paper towels. Some foods tend to cause splattering regardless of moisture content, so use the wok lid or stockpot cover to fend off any potential splattering.
Reuse oil wisely
After deep-frying, transfer the oil to an airtight container after it completely cools down. You can reuse the oil but repeated usage will cause the oil to darken or turn rancid leaving an unpleasant smell and taste. Discard the frying oil after using it for 2 or 3 times.