Frying food is a part of Soul food culture, whether it’s fried catfish, hush puppies, chicken fried steak or fried chicken. If you’re going to take the time and effort to fry food, then you want to ensure that the results will be full of crispy goodness. Just remember that there are a few rules to consider to get that crust crispy. Whether you are deep frying or pan frying, you still need to follow the same rules.
Type of Oil
While you’d choose olive oil to dress your salad, don’t ever use it to deep fry food. Each oil has its own smoking point, which is the point at which the oil will start smoking. So a high smoking point is our friend when it comes to frying. Those include canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.
Use Clean Cooking Oil
No judgment here for those who reuse cooking oil to fry food more than once. However, the cleaner the oil, the better the food will fry. Repeated use of the oil will result in the oil having a lower smoking point, making it less ideal. Also, as the oil is used, compounds in it will begin to break down into trans fats.
When frying, the temperature of the oil is of utmost importance. Too low, and the food dropped into the oil will just absorb it all, turning it into a soggy mess. When the oil is too high, the battered food will just burn.
So it’s very important that the temperature is correct. While it varies depending on what food you are frying, the oil for most fried food hovers at 375 degrees. But if you don’t have a thermometer to measure the temp, don’t worry. Here’s the trick that I use: Sprinkle a small dusting of flour onto the oil.
If it sizzles when it hits the oil, then the oil is ready to go.
Use a Sturdy Pan
In your arsenal of pots and pans, pick out a sturdy, heavy one to use for frying. This is important because pans that aren’t made of sturdy material don’t conduct heat as well. And conducting heat is mighty important when frying is involved.
Be Careful of Splatter
The oil is very hot, so be mindful of the splatter that will be created by lowering food into it. Also, invest $10 in a splatter guard. Place the splatter guard on top of the food that is frying, and the mesh of it will limit the oil drops getting on you or all over the stove.