Last 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.)
So 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.
- Deep-frying 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: