L.A. Times Test Kitchen tips: Secrets to deep-frying
Done right, deep-frying is an art. Beyond a great crust, a dip in hot oil is perfect for keeping moisture in the food as it cooks, whether you're frying up a succulent batch of chicken or battered oysters. Properly fried foods should never taste "oily" -- no soggy donuts or oil-soaked French fries allowed -- and should never have a soft crust. Here are a few quick tips for becoming a deep-fry master:
- Keep the oil at the right temperature. Oil that is too hot can burn the fried coating before the food is completely cooked inside. Oil that is too cool can soak into the food or coating before the food is completely cooked, making it soggy. Use a deep-fry or candy thermometer to make sure the oil stays at the right temperature.
- Use clean oil. If you're frying a lot, filter the oil between uses. Discard dark or dirty used oil -- dirty oil can impart old, burnt flavors onto fresh food.
- Use a neutral oil with a high smoking point. Neutral oils, such as peanut or canola, impart less flavor than nut and olive oils. The smoking point refers to the temperature at which the oil begins to break down due to high heat and can catch on fire.
- Use plenty of oil, and make sure you have enough room to fry. Use a big pot, and make sure the food -- and you -- are not cramped. Fry in batches, if needed, so the food does not stick together. And be sure to keep an eye on the thermometer whenever new food is added to the fryer, as the unfried food can temporarily bring down the temperature of the oil.
- Have a cooling rack, paper towels or flattened paper bags handy to drain any excess oil off the food once it is fried.
- Make sure your guests have plenty of napkins!
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Crispy fried chicken. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times