HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

do you deep-fry?

Do you deep-fry food?

Or, for health reasons, or not to waste oil - it does seem to be a LOT of oil! - do you generally find alternative methods to approximate your favorite deep-fried meals?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. We do, but just for special occasions. Like the day after Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Years, Pioneer Day (it's a Mormon thing, fried scones and honey butter) and occasionally birthdays. Baked donuts or tempura are not the same. My mom makes oven-fried chicken, and it's good, but I can't replicate it, recipe or no.

    1. Absolutely. It may be messy and perhaps not that healthy, but there is no way to approximate frying food in a satisfactory way. Fish, wings, fries, etc. are simply not the same when made in the oven. It's like saying you can do great barbecue in a crock pot - you're just fooling yourself.

      1. yep, but not that often because it seems like the smell lingers for days-when its warm, I do it on the porch using a portable burner.
        tempura, tonkatsu, croquets, fried squid, and of course fried chicken.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AdamD

          Myself. Frying should not be done indoors. I use a double propane burner and a wok. A wok has better access and a broader surface area than a pot. I used to use peanut oil, but canola oil works just fine and is about five times cheaper. It is potentially dangerous, so I try to keep people out of the immediate vicinity, especially children and drinkers. There is nothing like home-fried fish, chicken and shrimp and corn fritters to make people go nuts, especially at a large gathering.

        2. No. Mainly for the same reasons you cite. Probably more because of the mess and the waste. Unfortunately, that's more of a deal breaker than healthy eating for me.

          1. Yes....I deep fry. Alternative methods to approximate?? You're kidding right!! ~~ Fried Food, deep fried or otherwise is not bad for you.....Bad fried food is bad for you.

            Fun!

            1. I usually shallow fry things like tonkatsu and dumplings. Much easier. Deep frying only very infrequently because I find it's a pain in the butt.

              1. I cannot remember the chef's name who said that proper deep frying is healthier than shallow frying. (Alton Brown?) The reason given was that a larger amount of oil doesn't lose its temp when the food is added, and thus the food doesn't absorb the oil. The rationale was that foods absorb more oil at lower temps. Since the ATK episode about cold oil fried potatoes, though, I've been confused. I am interested in others' opinions on this question. Glad you asked this question.

                3 Replies
                1. re: sancan

                  I thought they said the reason the cold fried potatoes (which I tried, and they were wonderful) worked was because both the potatoes and the oil were cold, and that kept the potatoes from absorbing the oil. I think the article in Cooking Illustrated explained the chemical process behind that, but I don't recall it except vaguely (obviously!)

                  1. re: sancan

                    You've to to distinguish between different types of food you deep-fry. You can start raw potatoes in cold oil because they don't absorb much oil. They become more absorbent as they lose water, but the only reason they're losing water is that it's turning to steam.

                    Which leads us to the deep-fry vs. shallow-fry question. If you're working with a food that does tend to absorb oil (eg, anything that's breaded or battered), heat forces steam out of the food (that's the bubbling and sizzling you see), which creates outward pressure that pushes against the oil that's trying to soak in. If the entire piece of food is submerged in 350F oil, there's outward steam pressure over the entire surface. If part of the food is sticking up, it's cooler, with less steam pressure, so it can absorb more oil.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Thank you, Alan and Niki. I read about it, and watched it, and I still failed to remember the specifics. Sure would like to see more studies done on it.

                  2. I deep fry very rarely. Too messy. But it's fun once in a while. I get an atavistic thrill out of standing over a pot of rapidly boiIing oil. I filter the oil and reuse it. The smell is a problem. It lingers for days.

                    1. The oil can be filtered through a triple layer of cheese cloth and re-used a few times. Even with fresh oil, some used oil should go into it for better results.. so plan a few meals around it.

                      Alternate methods? Sure - there are some, depending on the recipe.. oven-roasting with some kind of crusty coating to add the crunch, but there will always be a difference. Nothing beats well-cooked french fries that were double-fried.

                      It can be a pain - sometimes its just easier to go get wings from some place that has a massive fry-o-lator rather than cook them up on one's own, but lots of aspect of cooking can be difficult.. that's part of what makes it fun.

                      As a previous poster said, well-cooked deep fried food isnt' as bad - its overfrying that brings the grease into the food.

                      1. Lately, I've been experimenting with gyoza wrappers and making little fried pies filled with:

                        leftover chicken curry,
                        leftover beef stew,
                        ham and eggs,
                        pepperoni, pizza sauce and mozz

                        etc.

                        I have been deep frying those, but other than that, no. Never.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: DoobieWah

                          A CH, whose name I can't remember, gave a great hors d'oeuvre or entree recipe. Take a large shrimp, place it at one end of a wonton wrapper with the tail sticking out, roll it up and seal. Fry. By the time the wonton wrapper is brown the shrimp is done. Dip in the sweet chili sauce (can't remember the brand) or whatever suits you. I've used smaller shrimp and cut the wrapper to fit. But you don't need to deep fry this one. Just do in a skillet and turn once.

                          I've been frying fish, French fries and onion rings for a year or two now. I have one of those small fryers. I don't find it all that messy and when the oil is beyond using anymore I can recycle it.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Thanks. I'll be doing that.

                            I might include a think slice of jalapeno in the wrap...

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Those are Thai shrimp rolls, sort of like shrimp taquitos. They are excellent.

                          2. Must admit, I don't. Partially because I have no idea what I'd do with the massive quantities of waste oil required, even if I saved it to reuse -- my kitchen is small, without much storage space either cupboard- or fridge-wise -- but mostly because I don't like deep-fried food well enough to bother. I'm sure my husband would love it if I learned to make awesome fish and chips but when the mess and the smells and the huge vat of boiling oil are taken into account, I'd just as soon go out.

                            1. I do. I have a little deep-fryer with a basket and a lid that's about the size of a toaster. I keep it on my workbench in the garage and fry stuff out there. No mess to speak of and the oil is reused several times, but I typically don't cook meat, just tempura, fries, stuff like that.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Samalicious

                                What do you do with it in between fry-sessions? My parents used to have something called a Fry-Baby that just lived in the back of our fridge, filled with coagulated whatever-it-was. Can you leave the oil at room temp?

                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                  @ darkly, in the cooler weather I just leave the whole thing sitting out there and it's fine.
                                  I usually change the oil after each use in the summer because I hardly use it when it's hot outside. If I didn't have the machine I doubt if I would fry anything at all, I agree with you that the mess and smell is too much to deal with otherwise.

                              2. Yes! Just did a delicious mixed fry with shrimp, fennel, strips of petrale sole, and squid. Added a green salad with tangerines and some crisp white wine for a simple, fantastic meal.

                                Okay it is messy and a little smelly. Life is messy and a little smelly.

                                1. I deep fry, but not always in a "deep fryer". I have both a cast iron dutch oven and an entire collection of cast iron pans and, when I'm making small amounts of deep fried foods or things like breakfast donuts, fried shrimp, johnny cakes, etc, I can achieve the results I want using the "deep fry one side and turn it over" method (e.g. chicken). I simply use a deep quantity of oil in my very deepest fry pan. That saves oil and does a nice job all at the same time.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: todao

                                    That's what I've always referred to as shallow frying. Fried foods are reserved for special occasions in my family. I learned my frying technique from my mother and grandmother - use a 3 inch deep cast iron skillet, add an inch of oil or so, heat it until a small piece of breading from whatever you're cooking sizzles in the oil, then put the chicken/fish/shrimp in a single layer with enough space to let the oil fill the space between pieces. Cook until golden brown, flip, repeat. Chicken takes far longer to fry than most people think.

                                    1. re: todao

                                      Todao, that's what we call pan frying at my house....One side then the other as opposed to deep frying. ~~ Deep frying is really relative to the product being fried....I deep fry small items in my Oyster pot...1.5" ~2.0" oil which works well for Shrimp and Oysters.....Frying turkeys of course is another story!

                                    2. I got a small Fry Daddy for my birthday. I love it. I make fried chicken and french fries and doughnuts. Yum! The waste oil is a problem though. After using the FD I do find that it really doesn't seem reusable to me.

                                      1. I love to deep fry, especially because I don't usually do the cleaning. I do it more now that I bought a giant vat of oil from Costco. I do have to discard a lot of oil as it's used, which is a drawback, but at least here we have city-wide composting, so it doesn't go to a landfill.

                                        1. Infrequently - doughnuts, tempura seafood and veg, frazzled shallots and herbs, chicken.

                                          1. Yes, but due to the clean up I usually wait for an occasion or a holiday to deep fry, which works out to about 4 times a year.

                                            When I have cravings for fried chicken, tempura, chicken fried steak, fish and chips... I have my favorite places to do the messy work. :-)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: dave_c

                                              When I have cravings for fried chicken, tempura, chicken fried steak, fish and chips... I have my favorite places to do the messy work. :-)

                                              ========

                                              That's how I feel. Since I deep-fry so infrequently - like, oh, say, never - and they do it all the time, I can pretty much guarantee they're better at it than I am. There are an awful lot of areas where I'm trying to improve my skills, but deep-frying is quite a way down that list.

                                            2. Yes, I make Buffalo wings frequently and there is no way to get them right without deep frying. My large 9qt Le Creuset is used for that purpose more than any other, and I usually just leave it full of oil with the lid on and reuse the oil several times before tossing it. Since I don't fry anything with breading, I don't worry too much about leaving particles behind. Wings actually taste better when they're fried in oil that is a couple of uses old rather than fresh!

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                Do you put it in the refrigerator or just leave it out? I'm sorry, I feel like I keep asking people the same questions over and over. It's like I have a mental block about deep-frying, or something. I just can't seem to get my head around this oil thing. Is it okay, generally, to leave used frying oil at room temperature for long periods of time?

                                                And what do you do when you toss it? Fill a plastic jug, cap it and throw the whole thing away?

                                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                  Yes scoop out the burnt breading as well as you can and just leave it out. No need to discard until it gets really dark and the only way to test that is with an eyedropper or something similar. It may look dark in the pot but it's never as bad as you think. When it's too dark, or starts bubbling during frying, I do discard in an old mayo container, clean out the fryer and refill with clean oil. It lasts as long as you want it to.

                                                  1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                    I leave it out - it's just oil, so it's not going to spoil, and as long as it's covered nothing nasty will get in there. To toss, I either use the jug it came in or an empty two-liter soda bottles - scoop out the oil with a ladle, into a funnel in the mouth of the jug, cap and toss. If I need my Le Creuset for something before I'm ready to throw out the oil, I do the same thing, but in that case I only use the jug it came in, and I strain it into the jug through some cheesecloth just to clean it up a bit, then I store the jug in a dark place until I want to fry again.

                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                      Your oil is going to be 160 C plus when deep frying. Anything that may have colonised your oil is going to be killed well before you'd put anything in for frying.

                                                  2. 1. Prawns wrapped simply with bacon then skewered nto the deep fryer until crisp 1 1/2 min, a treat.
                                                    2. Krispy Kreme (Sp?) doughnuts, days old, floured then egg soaked then floured again and dropped in Fry Granddaddy, again a real fattenening treat then dip in melted jam of your choice, mine huckleberry
                                                    3. Gyoza's with meat, garlic, cabbage mixture, lightly steamed then fried in light oil to crisp.
                                                    4. Cut up chicken pieces floured- egged- floured in cast iron skillet with crisco to fry nicely (each side) then when perfectly browned they go into the oven to finish.
                                                    5. Polish Christmas cookies dough gets cut in ribbons then fried in skillet with a lot a lite flavored oil, take out put on paper towels dust with powdered sugar

                                                    1. Tho the stench sure puts a bummer on frying, I do love me some homemade French fries (the cold oil method, thanks ab), and I've tried chicken, but it needs some tweaking.

                                                      I have a deep-fryer, and once it stops snowing i.e. it is bearable for anyone to linger on the patio long enough, I'll put it to work again.

                                                      Other frying goes on in my sauce pan or wok (eggplant for caponata or tiganites)- last thing I fried were calamari that came out so incredibly fantastic that I can't wait to make it again. Easy, fast, delish.

                                                      Someone told me you can heat a pot of water and vinegar to get the stink out of the house. Haven't tried that method yet.

                                                      Anyone? Bueller?

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                        Haven't tried the water vinegar method, but have found a high CFM Range hood does a good job....

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          Thats interesting. When I make a balsamic reduction, the vinegar smell is very strong but it does not linger as long as the fried smell. It just might work-with cheap white vinegar of course.

                                                        2. Slightly more on-topic than all of my angst about the frying oil, here's one of those alternative-approximations you mentioned: I actually "oven-fry" catfish sometimes. I cut the fillets into manageable chunks so they cook evenly - say, half the size of a playing card - use a cornmeal breading, with a few other things added for flavor, like cayenne, for instance, but you could use what you like. Then I put it in a baking dish with three tablespoons of oil, bake it at 425 for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. It's not deep-fried, but the cornmeal gives it a satisfying texture and the oil crisps it up a bit.

                                                          1. Maybe it's the white trash in me, but I fry on the porch with a Frydaddy! And I have been known to put the crockpot filled with collards on the porch too!
                                                            http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&...

                                                            People gather around the fryer, just like how people gather in the kitchen. Also, when you are frying go on and take advantage and fry everything!

                                                            Blackeye pea hushpuppies are always a hit. Also, crispy fried snapper with a coconut red curry!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: waitress

                                                              There you go. Love me some black eyed pea hushpuppies. I guess I have some white trash in me too. That, French fries, calamari, tempura, onion rings, fish filets for fish tacos, fried oysters; if the smell lingers, I open the windows...I gently simmer some lemon peels and cinnamon sticks on the stove if the smell really lingers. My upstairs neighbor always calls to ask what smells so good. We share.

                                                            2. I'm an occassional friyer. I've a nice setup in the garage on the workbench. I have a small convection oven and when I'm frying the fryer comes out to play there too. Growing up, my Dad had the fryer out alot, every Friday usually was a fish fry in the summer. Homemade french fries and fish he caught. Such good memories.

                                                              We make wings, different fried with different sauces, mostly perfecting hot wings. Also, things like spring rolls, lumpia, and shrimp, flautas and chimichangas. There a crunchy shrimp recipe that we love to make and the fryer makes the best french fries. You can do those in a deep pot stove top too, they're not hard at all, and so worth it. We've fried things and soon you'll see the neighbors come wondering by, I think its alot of fun. The one thing thats really good is fried chicken, try it in the deep fryer sometime, that's my choice when I have the energy otherwise I use my deepest cast iron skillet.

                                                              On my list to try this year are:
                                                              Samosas
                                                              Beignets
                                                              and I've made these before but want to make them even better are Sopapillas.

                                                              1. In my post I forgot to mention churros (LOVE them!) and beignets.

                                                                1. I deep fry when the food I want to eat needs to be deep fried. I use my small or medium le creuset or my recent discovery, the wok. I don't find that this is any messier than sauteeing chicken in a hot sautee pan, and certainly doesn't smell up the house any more than making a fish soup.

                                                                  In general, the amount of oil absorbed by the food is less than I had expected. This assumes that you are able to keep the oil at the optimal temperature which isn't always easy to do.

                                                                  We don't deep frying often, but some things should be fried.

                                                                  I reuse oil, filtering it back into a plastic jug. When it is past its prime, we store it and call our trumpet friend who has reconfigured his engine to use waste oil.

                                                                  1. I deep-fry occasionally. French fries are always a hit. Onion rings are popular, too. And although fresh-caught halibut gets more respectful treatment, the stuff that gets frozen after a successful fishing trip makes great fish and chips.

                                                                    I've had special equipment and forsworn it. I'd be willing to try again if there's some easy way to remove the plasticized oil that tends to build up, but meanwhile an enameled cast iron pot works just fine, and I can scrub it with powdered cleanser if necessary. Crank the vent-a-hood to eliminate fumes, filter the (cooled) used oil back into the original container, and good to go.

                                                                    Now you've got me thinking - there are a couple of yams that need to get used up, and I just sharpened the mandoline. Crispy sweet potato chips sprinkled with salt and chipotle power, anyone?

                                                                    1. Like some others have said, I only deep-fry for special occasions. You can't beat the texture and flavor, so I would say I haven't found any real alternative to it.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: KimberlySH

                                                                        It must be 10 years since I did but never say never......

                                                                      2. Deep frying is good.

                                                                        I use my Fry Daddy for small stuff. I also have two 20 qt stainless steel stock pots that I use for big ticket items (a fish fry) and home brewing.

                                                                        IMO, use lard to deep fry in (unless you're a vegetarian). Lard tends to keep better, it has a higher smoking point than vegetable oils, it's gluten-free (heh), and food cooked in it actually tastes better and different. Plus it's no less healthy for you than any other oil you can cook in, and you can buy it in 5 gallon plastic buckets.

                                                                        I just let the oil/lard cool down to just above room temperature, strain it through a funnel into a container, and then use the lard in that container to cook with later on.

                                                                        1. O yes.

                                                                          I think I'm a little surprised that everyone is so averse to it. Where I live (Lousiana, sorta near Baton Rouge) frying is incredibly common. It's something common for social gatherings, but not just special occasions.

                                                                          I think a lot of the health concerns are magickal. Like the way there are places where people eat snakes for vitality, tigers for ferocity, and sea cucumbers for sexuality. It seems like people feel that if they cook with so much fatty oil, then they will be fat or oily.

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Altarbo

                                                                            That is such a great description, and so true!

                                                                            1. re: Altarbo

                                                                              Yes, it's a regional thing. Frying is much more common in the South than in other parts of the U.S.
                                                                              Deep-fried foods clearly have more calories than baked or boiled, for instance.

                                                                              1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                Generally agree, but boiling is probably the worst thing you can do to shrimp. Lightly steamed shrimp is pretty good, but boiling sucks the juice out of them. And boiling kills many of the good flavors of chicken and releases the nasty ones. Well-fried chicken and shrimp, on the other hand, are foods of the gods. Does anyone on death row ever order boiled chicken as their last meal?

                                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                  Right, fried chcken and shrimp are delicious. I did make deep-fried popcorn shrimp once and it was yummy. I'll make it again for a special occasion. But roasted or sauteed shrimp is good too, and much less messy. And less fattening.

                                                                                  1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                    Did you forget fried Oysters??? :)

                                                                                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                                      As much as I love fried oysters, it's really, really, really hard to improve on fresh raw oysters slurped off the half-shell with a little lemon and hot sauce and a cold beer on the side. Hmmm...now I know what I'm doing after work today.

                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                        I Know, I know, I know!!! but the subject was/is deep frying. ~~ It's all good my friend!!

                                                                                        Have Fun & Enjoy!

                                                                                    2. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                      When I make fried chicken, I end up with more oil than I started with. So it's gotta be just as healthy as roasted, right? At least that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

                                                                              2. I got a good deep frying lesson in North Carolina this summer. Soft shell crab, shrimp, fresh caught mackeral, and hush puppies. I was in heaven.

                                                                                I usually avoid it because of the mess and smell, but this summer I'm going to change that. Not sure if I'll buy the whole turkey cooker set up, or just use my dutch oven on the grill, but there will be deep frying done. Thomas Keller's fried chicken is on the top of my list. After that, it will be wings with as many sauces as my mind can conjure.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: BigE

                                                                                  A lot of those turkey fryer burners are built low to the ground, which I find inconvenient. Bayou Cooker makes a nice two-burner unit for about $130.00 that is perfect for all types of outdoor cooking and they last for years. In decent weather, I do all my cooking outside. You'll wonder how you ever got along without one.