Like most Americans, I’m obsessed with deep fried food. Crispy, crunchy, crumbly and crackly. What’s not to love?
While of course everything needs to be eaten in moderation, if you’re going to be eating deep fried food, make sure that it’s worth it. I’ve been accused of being a food snob before in the past. In a way, that’s true. If I’m going to be eating something that’s extremely sinful, I’m going to make sure that it’s something that worth my time/calories.
When I indulge, you can be sure that it’s not going to be at McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Am I above nachos, french fries or queso? No, no and yes (processed cheese, UGH). So that’s why I’m so glad I’ve mastered the art of deep frying food. It’s embarrassing to admit how often I’m firing up the oil, but frying is honestly really simple once you get the hang of it.
We have an electric stove, so the oil heats up in just enough time for me to throw together a quick batter and chop up a few vegetables. People are often afraid of deep frying food; the hot oil can be rather daunting at first (particularly if there are splatters) but with some practice, it’s really not any more dangerous than simply using the stove.
Here are some easy guidelines to keep in mind for Frying 101:
Deep Frying 101
Why is it important to make sure food is dry before putting it in the oil? First of all, it’s important to make sure that there’s not any excess water in whatever you’re frying. Water will automatically cause splatters. On top of that, when you make sure that whatever you’re frying (if you’re not coating it in a batter) is extremely dry, you’re guaranteed to have crispier results. So for potato chips, slice them as thinly as possible and then thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels. Don’t get lazy and skip this part; it makes all the difference. Same with tofu. Remember: Crispy = Yummy
How do I keep from splattering the oil all over the place? Patting them dry will help immensely with this issue, but at the end of the day, when you’re dealing with something as unpredictable as hot oil, little splatters are going to happen. Another way to amend this is also to put down the food away from you and very gently. Don’t just randomly plop the food into the hot oil.
Some of the food turns out burnt on the outside and raw in the inside. If you’re just starting out in your deep frying journey, I suggest using a fryer thermometer to ensure that you’re frying at the correct temperature. Usually, if you’re going off a recipe, it will say what the ideal temperature is, but if you’re in doubt just stick to 350 degrees and adjust accordingly from there. Also, make sure not to overcrowd the pan, it will lower the temperature of the pan.
What kind of oil is should I be using? I typically use safflower oil, peanut oil or canola for everyday frying. If you’re in a pinch, you can use light olive oil, but EVOO has a smoke temperature that’s much lower than typical oils, so I don’t recommend using it. Also, it’s not going to fry evenly, so you’re pretty much just going to run into a million different issues trying to use EVOO from the get-go.
How can I amp up my batter to make things extra crispy? A couple of things you can do. Try throwing in a tsp of baking powder into your batter. A splash of vodka can add some crunch. If you want a lighter batter but still want it to be really crispy, use sparkling water instead of water.
I don’t like when my fried food ends up being a grease pot. Who does? Don’t be skimpy with the paper towels. When you’re removing the food from the oil, plop them onto a couple of paper towels to get rid of the extra oil and then quickly transfer them onto a wire rack so that they don’t become all soggy when you’re frying the later batches.
Salt doesn’t stay on my chips. Make sure you’re seasoning your food right after you take them out of the oil and then transfer them to a cooling rack. That way the seasoning will stick to the food while it’s hot and then really permeate your chips or chicken. Wait until the last minute to sprinkle on fresh lemon. The liquid will make things soggy.
At the end of the day, just have fun. Trust me, everything tastes 100x better fried once you’ve mastered Frying 101. You can even use your oil a couple of times as long as you properly strain the oil and cover the pan. That way, I end up using it a couple of times during the week and then throw out the oil in a disposable container in the garbage at the end of the week. YUMMY. Let us know in the comments below what you’re frying up next!