Fried food is an inescapable part and parcel of our lives. In Southeast Asian cuisine especially, frying does occupy center stage. Chinese and Thai dishes often feature crispy, golden fried wantons and spring rolls on the side. Everyone loves a deep fried samosa with their cup of evening tea in India. Stir-fried noodles with bits of cut vegetables or strips of succulent meat have almost become a universally acknowledged Asian dish, eaten and enjoyed across the globe with equanimity. Frying can take its toll if you’re a rookie in the kitchen. It usually takes a little bit of practice to get it perfect. And even then, some of the most experienced among us end up making rookie mistakes.
Here are some common mistakes we all make while frying, and how to avoid them:
This is easily the most commonly identified mistake when frying. It happens when you try to put things into the oil before it has had a chance to reach the correct temperature. Different recipes call for different temperatures, but if the pan has not been sufficiently heated, it results in the batter soaking up all the oil. Your food will acquire an unappealing, soggy texture and taste oily. To prevent this disaster, you could buy a good kitchen thermometer or toss a few drops of batter into the oil to check if it’s ready.
Oil needs time to reach the correct temperature at a slow pace. If you try to rush it, you will end up with food that is scorched and blackened on the outside while still being raw on the inside. So to get this crucial step right, you need to be cautious. Choose oils with a high smoking point like canola, soybean or vegetable, and steer clear of butter and olive oil at all costs. Use a heavy pan that distributes heat evenly.
Seasoning is the easiest part to mess up when dealing with fried food. It can throw off the entire balance and make your end product miss the mark by an inch, even if it has turned out to be crispy and perfectly golden. Make sure you season liberally and remember to season every layer. Especially with meat, don’t just rely on the salt and pepper in the batter. Marinade the meat or vegetables separately to ensure that flavor penetrates all the layers. This step usually requires practice before you can gauge the correct quantities of the seasonings.
Undercooked food is the result of impatience and overcrowding your pan. When you overcrowd the pan, it traps heat between the pieces and causes them to get steamed, instead of being fried. It turns the food damp and prevents it from getting crispy. You will also end up dropping the temperature of the oil and making your food even more soggy. A simple rule to follow is to ensure that no two pieces of food are touching each other in the pan.
Getting fried food correctly seasoned, crispy and golden in the right amount can be a critical factor in deciding your success. But with a little bit of care and patience, there is no reason why you can’t achieve this. In fact, practice as much as you can, so that when you need a break from your diet the next time to indulge in your favorite fried snacks, you can cook them up like a pro.
Author : Deepannita Misra