week in a comment about the almond crusted shrimp balls, Candice remarked that
she refrained from deep-frying because she didn’t know what to do with the leftover
oil. That led me to assemble these tips to help you deep-fry. I’ve been deep-frying
since I was young, when my mom gave me the task of frying chicken for our
family dinner. I’ve had many successes and mishaps over the years. (If you
deep-fry squid, remember to make sure it’s super dry before it hits the oil.)
if the thought of deep-frying puts you off or sends shivers down your spine, I
hope these tips will persuade you to go out and buy yourself a bottle of oil
and fry up something delectable.
Addressing common concerns about deep-frying:
- Is deep-frying
is fattening? Well, it’s not like eating boiled food. It’s not spa or diet
food. That said, if deep-frying is done well, it’s not terribly greasy. I’m
often surprised by how little oil gets absorbed during deep-frying. Of course,
that add depends on what’s being deep-fried. Also, old oil that’s degraded too
muchcan sometimes cause lead-like deep-fried food. As my friend Diane, a
nurse, once told me, “It’s not what you eat once in a while, it’s what you eat
everyday that really affects your health.” So a live a little.
- What do you
with all that oil after deep-frying? Recycle it. After you’re done frying, let the oil cool
completely, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. If the oil is cloudy or
contains lots of unsavory bits, line the strainer with paper towel or
cheesecloth. Transfer the oil to a clean, dry jar or plastic bottle, cap
tightly, and store in a cool, dry place. In general, I don’t reuse oil once it
has turned super brown (as opposed to its golden color when new) or if it has
picked up funky odors from frying foods such as oily fish like salmon. If you fry fish, use recycled oil and dispose of it afterward. Store spent oil in a separate container. Don't put it down the drain.
makes the house smell. You betcha. To deal with the smell of frying, which perfumes
a room but can linger for a spell, run the exhaust while frying and open
windows. I sometimes carefully take the pot of hot oil outside and let it cool
in the open air. Burn a stick of incense. You can also do like my
mother and fry outside.
- It’s too
messy to deep-fry. Put a few sheets of newspaper on the floor if you are
worried about dirtying the kitchen. During or after frying, quickly wipe the
stove and counter clean to prevent grease buildup. Wear an apron.
Some more technical tips to fry by:
- What kind
of oil to use for deep-frying? There are many choices but I’ve been fine
with canola oil, purchased by the 1.25-gallon containers from Costco. On
occasion canola smells a little weird as it heats up, but I haven’t noticed it
affecting the flavor of my food. Grape seed and semi-refined peanut oil are
great for deep-frying as they’re a touch lighter, but they are costly. By the
way, the only time I was at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, I got to go into
the kitchen. What does a Michelin 3-star restaurant fry in? Canola oil, I was
- Don’t be
shy about using oil. It may seem like a gross amount but you are
deep-frying, not searing. Pour enough oil into the pan as called for in the
recipe. A recipe will typically tell you by depth, that is “pour oil into a pan
to a depth of X.” Measure with a chopstick. If you’re short of oil, fry in a medium saucepan rather than
a larger pot. It will take more time but use less oil.
- What to
fry in? It depends on what you’re frying and how much. Restaurants have
deep-fryers the size of a kitchen sink! For us regular folks, how about a
saucepan, 5-quart Dutch oven, deep skillet, or wok? I love deep-frying in a
wok because its concave shape requires less oil and heats up in a jiffy.
- How do
you know when the oil is hot enough? The key to successful deep-frying is
getting the oil to the proper temperature and keeping it there. The easiest way to achieve that is to buy a clip-on deep-frying thermometer (same as a candy
thermometer). Position the tip of thermometer just above the bottom of the pan
so you are measuring the heat of the oil and not the metal. When you feel more
comfortable with deep-frying, try using a bamboo chopstick to gauge the
temperature. Stick a dry on into the oil and if bubble rise immediate to the
surface, the oil is roughly about 350F (175C). If you want hotter heat, use a
thermometer to be sure. Rectangular clip-on thermometers
are my favorite.
organized before you begin frying. Put the food on one side of the stove
and the setup for draining the crispy results on the other side. Keep utensils
such as a wire skimmer, chopsticks, or tongs nearby.
- Don’t let
the oil overheat and smoke. If it does, carefully move the pan to another
burner. After the smoke dissipates, reheat the oil and continue frying.
- Test fry
one or two pieces of food when trying out a new recipe. A practice run is great
for testing the oil temperature and getting used to the timing and frying
- Fry in
batches to avoid lowering the oil temperature. Always let the oil return to
the appropriate temperature, (regulating
the heat as necessary,) before adding the next batch.
refresh and restore a fresh-from-the-fryer crispness, refry a second time.
When planning a second refrying, fry again right before serving. Slightly under
fry the first time to avoid over browning on the second frying. In general,
refry using slightly higher heat than used for the first frying.
One last thing . . . I so enjoy deep-fried food but the
older I get, the more I realize that I shouldn’t (can’t) eat as much of it as I
used to. Looking back at all the restaurant French fries and pieces salt-and-pepper squid that I’ve eaten,
only a fraction of them have been stellar. I had better luck when I did it
myself. Plus, it’s extra fun and gratifying to stand at the stove sipping champagne
and frying onion rings, a perfect way to pick yourself up on a Monday or launch
the weekend on a Friday. Something to ponder and perhaps look forward to.
free to share deep-frying tips or experiences (good or bad)!