Deep-fried

Deep-fried

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

This may not be the healthiest of cooking methods, but there is really nothing quite like a piece of battered fresh fish deep-fried to perfection. And let’s face it, you’re not going to eat fish cooked this way every day, are you?

Deep-frying is, in fact, a good technique for protecting the fish and sealing in its moisture and flavour. Generally the fish is coated in batter or breadcrumbs before frying, or possibly wrapped in pastry, or – as is the custom in some countries – simply dusted with flour and dropped straight into the hot oil.

Deep-frying is considered to be a dry cooking method, because no water is used. And as the temperature of the fat or oil you use is so high, the fish or shellfish cooks quickly. What actually happens is that the high temperature of the oil heats the water within the seafood, which consequently steams – from the inside out.

You need a flavourless oil for deep-frying that doesn’t interfere with the taste of the seafood – I use either sunflower or light rapeseed oil. You can reuse the oil a few times, but only for fish. Once it has cooled down, strain it before storing.

A special-purpose thermostatically controlled deep-fat fryer is convenient and easy to use, but only worth buying if you deep-fry often. A deep, heavy saucepan on the hob will suffice, but do use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature and don’t fill it more than half-full.

Be careful when you are deep-frying thick pieces of fish, as a crisp golden coating may suggest they are cooked, but the heat may not have penetrated all the way through to the centre. If you think this is a possibility, after frying pop the fish into a hot oven for a few minutes and it will be good to go.

When fish is deep-fried correctly, it doesn’t become greasy. You’ll only have this problem if the oil isn’t hot enough. Obviously you need to get the oil in your deep-fryer up to the correct temperature before you add any food; the optimum temperature range for deep-frying fish is 175–190°C. Don’t put too much into the pan in one go or you will bring the temperature of the oil down – cook in batches to avoid this. And don’t leave the seafood in the pan once it is cooked or it will start to absorb oil.

For me, the best way to deep-fry fish is in batter. I love the contrast of a crisp, golden well-seasoned batter against the seafood. You can be creative with the batter and it can really make the most of fish varieties that are light on flavour – my crispy pollack recipe is a good example.

I love fish and chips as long as they are crispy, and I’m not alone. Whenever I put anything deep-fried on the menu it always flies out of the kitchen!

Best seafood to deep-fry

Pollack, cod, coley, flounder, haddock, hake, ling, whiting, lemon sole, red mullet, plaice, pouting, sprats, cuttlefish, squid, oysters, prawns, crab, queenie scallops.

Accompaniments and garnishes

Asian dipping sauce, tomato ketchup, herb mayonnaise, wasabi mayonnaise, curry mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, shoestring fries.

Recipes in this Chapter

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