Technique of the Week: Deep Frying

Deep frying involves fully immersing food in hot oil. It is an extremely fast cooking method, and, despite the use of liquid oil, is best classified as a dry cooking method because it does not involve water. The oil or fat used for deep-frying should have a high smoke point. The smoke point is the point to which it can be heated without smoking. For that reason, shortening, lard, and vegetable, canola, peanut and safflower oils are good candidates, while butter and margarine or not. The temperature of the fat is all-important and can mean the difference between success and disaster. Fat at the right temperature will produce a crisp exterior and succulent interior. If it's not hot enough, food will absorb fat and be greasy; too hot, and it will burn. An average fat temperature for deep-frying is between 325°F and 375°F, but recipes differ according to the characteristics of each food.

Tips and tricks:
  • If you are not using a special deep-fat fryer, be sure to use a heavy-bottomed pot or deep sauté pan.
  • To allow for bubbling up and splattering, the container should be filled no more than halfway full with oil. 
  • If your oil starts to smoke it is too hot, remove the pan from the cooking surface very carefully and allow it to cool down.
  • To ensure ingredients are cooked properly, a clip on thermometer is recommended. Oil that is ready will bubble around the edges of a clean, dry chopstick (or other wood stick) when inserted.
  • The temperature of the oil will drop when you add your item so add items in small batches to avoid the temperature dropping too quickly. If the temperature drops too quickly, it will result in greasy, uncooked items and longer reheat times.
  • Use a slotted spoon and lower items gently to avoid hot oil splashes.
  • Drain your item on a paper-towel lined surface and season immediately with salt/pepper.
  • Fat or oil used for deep-frying may be reused. Let it cool, then strain it through cheesecloth and funnel into a bottle or other tightly sealed container before refrigerating.
  • Save your oil container and after cooling the oil to room temperature, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the oil back into its original container. Store in a cool, dark place or freeze for up to two months.
  • When oil is no longer usable, dispose of oil properly. Do not pour used oil down sink! Seal tightly and throw it away or put it in your compost pile.