Cheese, shrimp, oreos, flounder…you name it and we’ll fry it! That quick splatter of grease when our seafood of choice dunks into the sizzling hot liquid is one of the best sights on earth, but it can go wrong real fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. From prepping the ingredients to taking ‘em out of the oil, there are a few simple steps that can go horribly wrong. We’re here to tell you how fried food is supposed to be done!
Picking the Oil
Right – You’ve gotta pick the oil based on its smoke point, which is the temperature in which the oil breaks down and becomes unusable. If you’re deep frying the fish, opt for oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed, extra virgin olive oil, peanut or canola.
Wrong – Unrefined oils have smoke points that are way too lower, plain and simple. Nut oils, like almond and pistachio, are best used for medium-heat sauteing and not deep frying. Trying to take a healthy route by choosing a “healthier” oil isn’t wise, and will result in unappealing fried fish.
Checking the Temperature
Right – We’re begging you, use an oil thermometer! Yeah, it might mean dropping a couple more bucks at the store, and yeah, it might be a little out of your comfort zone, but it’ll pay off in the long run. If the recipe you’re using doesn’t specify a temperature, 360 degrees is the sweet spot for frying seafood.
Wrong – Don’t guess the oil temperature, just don’t do it. Throwing a little water on the oil and hoping for a splatter is common practice, but not a very good one. It’s not accurate, and the oil often isn’t hot enough by the time you throw the meat in. Oil thermometers are inexpensive and worth the mini splurge.
Putting the Fish in the Pan
Right – When you place the fish in the oil, don’t overcrowd. This means, half of the surface area of the pan should still be open. Cooking in small batches might feel tedious, but produces far better results.
Wrong – If you put too much in the pan, the oil’s temperature will drastically drop. The fish will come out unevenly cooked and even mushy. The oil will seep into the food, which will dilute the flavor and make it unappealing.
Draining the Fried Fish
Right – The smart way to drain the excess oil from your fried seafood is by using a cooling rack (the same thing you use to cool off baked goods). Place the rack over a cookie sheet, allowing the oil to drip to the bottom. The fish will stay crispy and your guests will be happy.
Wrong – Paper towels and brown paper bags are the old fashioned way of removing excess oil. But once again, this minor mistake could make your fried food mushy, opposed to the crisp texture you’re hoping for.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple fix to the crazy amounts of smoke that’ll pour into your house when you deep fry. But wait, maybe there is! When you head to Julington Creek Fish camp for any of the fried food you’re craving, you don’t have to worry about any of these problems! Just sit down and point at a menu item. Yep, that’s about it.