Deep-frying

Deep-frying

By
Jeremy Pang
Contains
13 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 5745
Photographer
Martin Poole

While deep-frying may not necessarily be the healthiest of cooking processes, there is something incredibly delicious about the unique texture that it creates. In Chinese cooking, deep-fried dishes definitely have a place in the ‘balancing puzzle’. Not only do they create added texture within a meal, but deep-frying also seems to engage a different sense of savoury flavour on our palates, which is why I think something deep-fried is so moreish. It is important to see this chapter as that segment of a balancing act when pieced together with a whole family meal, rather than dishes that should sit alone on the dinner table every night of the week.

The Chinese tend to use deep-frying in a variety of situations. From an instant cooking process for quick starters, finger foods and pastries to creating an immediate seal for dishes that require that added crispiness or crunch. Deep-fried batters can also help to wrap tasty sauces and intense flavours around a food item, bringing several components of a dish together; such as in sweet-and-sour chicken or tofu. Within this deep-frying chapter you will come across different pastries as well as both wet and dry batters, which will form different crispy layers around your food, showcasing a variety of deep-frying techniques and outcomes.

Deep-frying is such a big part of Chinese cooking, but it definitely falls into the more adventurous side of home cooking! Here are some handy tips on how to deep-fry in the home kitchen safely as well as successfully.

TIP: Deep-frying is essentially a sealing process – a great way of locking in the moisture and flavour of whatever you are cooking. When deep-frying correctly, your ingredients should be immersed in enough hot oil to create an immediate seal around the ingredient. As long as the heat of your oil is between 160–180°C, the ingredients will immediately start to ‘blister’ around the edges, creating that seal that you are looking for.

Deep-frying: The rules

First and foremost, when deep-frying anything, try not to do anything else at the same time. No multitasking!

Use a thick, large saucepan or wok. This will ensure the heat is easier to control without warming too quickly, as well as keeping the oil from spitting over the side.

Never fill the oil more than halfway up the pan.

Bring your high-heating oil (vegetable, sunflower, corn, groundnut, rapeseed, or rice bran oil) gradually to heat over a medium-high flame.

Test the temperature of the oil the Chinese way by dipping a wooden implement (wooden chopstick, bamboo skewer or the end of a wooden spoon) into the hot oil and resting it carefully in the liquid. At around 140°C, the wood will start to bubble slowly, however the oil will not be hot enough to deep-fry yet. At around 170–180°C the wood will fizz, which would suggest that you are at roughly the right temperature to deep-fry.

NEVER allow your oil to get so hot that it starts to smoke. If you do see it smoking, it is best to switch the hob off and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before starting again. Unlike when stir-frying, if you allow such a large volume of oil to smoke in a pan or wok the immense heat that is created within that volume of oil will soon turn into flame, which is where deep-frying can become dangerous.

Always have a slotted spoon or frying basket and tongs and a mixing bowl covered with two or three sheets of kitchen paper at the ready to strain off any excess oil from the deep-frying process.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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