Deep-frying, when done properly, is a great way to cook seafood. It’s fast, cooking most foods in less than 5 minutes, it quickly seals the food’s surface, locking in flavour and moisture and it adds appealing crunch, colour and aroma.
Tips for Successful Deep-Frying:
- Use olive oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or ghee for deep-frying, depending on the flavour you want to achieve.
- Don’t fill electric fryers beyond maximum level, if using a wok or saucepan, only half fill them.
- Pre-heat oil to 180 - 190°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. If oil smokes, it’s too hot and food is likely to cook on the outside while the inside is still raw.
- Cut seafood into uniform size pieces, to allow for even cooking.
- Use a coating to protect the seafood and give a good colour and crunch (see below for some ideas) and dry any uncoated food on paper towel to prevent spitting.
- Don’t drop food into hot oil, carefully slide it into the oil from the side of the pan to prevent splashing.
- Don't overload the fryer or the oil temperature will drop and take too long to recover, meaning the seafood will absorb oil and become soggy. Better to cook in batches.
- Don't overcook seafood. It’s ready as soon as the flesh turns opaque and the coating is golden brown.
- Drain deep-fried food well on paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Filter cooled used oil through a coffee filter, muslin or doubled chux to remove any food particles and sediment, store in a cool dark place and discard after 1 week or 4 uses (whichever comes first).
- Dispose of cooking oil in an environmentally safe manner - never down the sink.
- Season flour with salt and pepper, finely chopped herbs or spices such as paprika, chilli, cumin or fennel.
- Stir finely grated parmesan cheese, sesame seeds or flaked almonds through breadcrumbs.
- Fold a beaten egg white through batter just before using for a melt-in-the-mouth effect.
Deep-Frying Safety Tips
- Avoid reaching over or across containers of hot oil.
- Never carry or move containers of hot oil or oil that is on fire.
- Extinguish oil fires by sliding a lid over the top of the container and leaving it there until flames have stopped and oil is cool.
What to deep-fry
- White fleshed fish such as whiting, flathead, snapper, ling and Murray cod as skinless fillets or in bite-size chunks (fish cocktails).
- Prawns peeled and butterflied with tails intact (prawn cutlets).
- Squid and Cuttlefish hoods scored with a crosshatch pattern so that they curl when cooked, or sliced into rings or thin strips. The tentacles are great deep-fried too.
- Oysters dipped in seasoned flour or light batter.
- Crab cakes made by binding cooked crabmeat with a little egg and seasoning and dipping in breadcrumbs.