Deep fry like a pro
If you really want to get serious about this cooking method and get a perfect result over and over again, a deep fryer is a very sensible investment. But you can get by with more basic tools in your kitchen.
Everything can be deep fried.
– Peppe Elmqvist, fourth generation fishmonger (and purveyor to his majesty the king of Sweden)
If you don’t have a deep frier, a high and narrowwill do, for example a stock pot. The sides must be at least 10 cm (4”) high – and the pot should never be more than half full of oil.
You also need reliable and steady pliers or kitchen. Keep in mind that substandard kitchen tools can put you at risk when working with boiling oil…
A thermometer also helps. It is essential that you keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and that it doesn’t rise and fall sharply as you add food. Be aware that not all thermometers can measure up to 160° C (320°F) or more.
If you don’t have a, test the oil with a piece of bread before deep frying. If the oil around the bread immediately starts to boil, it is ready.
The right oil for deep frying
You want an oil with a ”neutral” taste. This means that olive oil, for one, is seldom an option. The best oils for high temperatures are peanut, soybean, grape seed, sunflower, rape seed, or a mixture of these. Don’t be afraid to use the oil more than once, but be sure to filter it between cooking sessions.
Frying with olive oil
In – for example – the spanish cuisine it is common to use olive oil in the deep fryer. But there are reasons not to do so:
- Olive oil starts smoking at a relatively low temperature, about 150°C (302°F).
- Olive oil develops a bitter taste when subjected to high temperatures. This effect is more mellow if you dilute it with other, more heat-resistant oils.
Crispier with animal fats
This is an old trick that is resurfacing now that the hysteria regarding animal fats is cooling down: Withor in the deep frier you will get a crispier result when cooking dough in one form or another. According to legend the original Belgien recipe för ”French” fries is with horse tallow in the deep frier…
How much oil do you need?
Enough so that at least half of the food is submerged under the surface. Also: The more oil, the smaller the fluctuation in temperature as the food is added.
Safety when deep frying:
- Never add water or ice to the oil. The reaction is violent.
- No kitchen tools made from plastic or rubber. They will melt.
- Nothing inflammable close to the stove/deep fryer.
- Keep in mind that kitchen tools made of steel will heat up.
- Leave a generous margin to the edge of the pot/fryer to reduce risk of oil overflowing.
Before you deep fry
Thermometer, skimmer and pliers/tweezers
Deep frying is made a lot easier if you have a fast and sensitive thermometer, a skimmer with the right dimensions for your vessel, and a pair of tongs or tweezers. You also need kitchen paper and some sort of basket or strainer where the food can rest as excess fat runs off.
Dry food before deep frying
The whole point of deep frying is to drive humidity out of the food – or at least the surface of it – by applying the high heat in the oil. If you add wet food you upset this whole idea – and you risk causing an accident when the water reacts violently with the oil.
How long does it take to deep fry?
This depends, of course. If you are only adding the final touch and/or want a “shell” effect (for example to meat that has been cooked sous vide, or if attempting deep fried ice-cream) about 30 seconds in the oil can be enough. The oil should be hot, about 190°C (374°F).
Breaded chicken wings – or other, smaller morcels of meat – are larger than french fries, but meat cooks faster than potatoes. About 5 to 8 minutes at 160°C (320°F) should do it.
When you deep fry
The right temperature for deep frying
Allow the oil the time it takes to reach the right temperature. This is usually between 150 and 190°C (302 and 374°F). If not specified, try somewhere between 160 and 175°C.
A little food at a time
The clever ”basket” in a deep frier makes it easy to simply sink the food into the oil. If you don’t have a deep frier, use – for example – a skimmer to add a little food at a time in a controlled manner.
Avoid oil splashing
Beginners wary of boiling oil can make the mistake of letting the food drop from a “safe” height. The opposite is the correct way to do it. Simply “sink” the food into the oil as gently as possible. If adding a large chunk of food, make sure any splash is away from you, not towards you.
How deep fried food should behave:
- If the temperature is right, the food will sink into the oil, and then rise to the surface again and “bubble”.
- If the oil is too cold, the food will sink and stay on the bottom.
- If the oil is too hot, contact with the oil will be violent and difficult to handle. The food will hardly sink at all.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Temperature is too low – no crispy surface, food drips fat.
- Temperature is too high – food is burnt on the surface while raw at the core.
- Different size food morcels – they are not done simultaneously.
- Too much food at once – temperature sinks and cooking stops.
- Food lumps together – there is no crispiness and heat does not penetrate.
- Humid or wet food – reaction between water and oil can be violent and dangerous.
When is deep fried food done?
- When the surface is golden brown. But check one piece with a knife just to be sure, not least if deep frying larger morcels.
- Use the thermometer on the core of the food. You can find our universal temperature guide here.
- Use a forl, knife or toothpick to check the texture.
- Taste it, as long as it doesn’t mean taking any risks…
If the oil starts burning
- Turn of the stove deep fryer and smother the fire with a large lid, a frying pan, a kitchen towel, or a fire extinguisher.
- Do not try to put out the fire with water.
- Do not try to move the burning pot/deep fryer.
After deep frying
Remove excess fat
Place the food on kitchen paper or a clean side towel so that excess oil is led off. Materials with “active” absorption do a better job than just a basket or strainer.
While food is hot…
Keep the food hot, not least if you are deep frying small amounts in batches. An oven at 90°C (194°F) will do the job. Add salt and spices while hot.
Re-use the oil
Just make sure to remove food particles between uses. And don’t worry, if the oil has gone bad you will notice: It goes dark and/or smells bad and/or has a foamy surface.
No oil down the drain
Sending hard and/or hardening fat down the drain messes up the plumbing as well as the environment. Give the fat to your garden mulch, to your pet hens, to the recycling station, or to the ordinary waste for burning inside – for example – a milk carton.