Fried food can be such a temptation, or even a luxury indulgence that you only have once in a while.
It can also be quite intimidating to cook at home…anf if you are going to take the time, and the risk of getting burtned, it’s worth learning how to do it correcvtly.
Those times that you do fry foods at home, you want to make sure that you end up with the crispiest, crunchiest, and yummiest food…food with an attractive coloring, delicious taste, and satisfying crunch.
Not greasy, soggy food with breading that simply, falls or flakes off while you are cutting into it, ending up eating the breading separate from the meat.
So we’ll start our discussion on frying foods with breading.
Breading is a basic process that involves coating your food—such as fried chicken and onion rings—before frying it.
This coating can consist of many different types of crumbs—such as rushed corn flakes, fine dried breadcrumbs, crushed cracker meal, and even potato chips…(more on this later)…
Breading differs from using a batter to prep your food.
Breading involves using basically dry ingredients whereas Battering your food involves combining flour of some sort with a liquid and perhaps other ingredients—such as eggs and baking powder.
Battering your food coat them in a thicker and more goopy layer.
My husband and I have been married, and most night making dinner for about thirt-five years now..but there’s one thing that I have noticed. I tend to gravitate toward those cooking methods that do not require you to stand by the stove for forty-five minutes “keeping an eye” on something…and actually lean more towards stirring some stuff together, putting it in a 9×13, and walking away.
I guess there are two reasons for this.
First of all, I have this terrible fear ofr being burned.
But secondly, I am plain out lazy and just don’t want to stand up.
But that won’t get your fried okra or fried squash or fried anything else on the table, so I am determined to learn how to master these “stove-top” cooking methods…e ventually making it my goal to be like one of those impressive home chefs that can cook without using a recipe…kinda like those people who can sit down and play piano by ear, having not one day of the way-too-many piano lessons to count.
So far in this attempt to create not only healthier eating habits and cooking skills, I have been thinking about what I should, or would< keep in my kitchen if I totally gutted everything and started all over., we have collected a few things along the way…
Even though frying is considered a quick and easy cooking method, there are still issues that come up—such as ruined meals, messy oily splatter, burned fingers, and even minor kitchen fires.
But half the battle is having the right equipment and knowing how to use it the right way.
1.Pan…Items that you should have in your kitchen so far based on the cooking methods that we already talked about—sauteeing and stirfrying–you should at this point only have two pans—a saute pan and a wok.
Now we need to add two more pans to our collection—one for panfrying, and the other for deep frying.
As far as pan frying, many people like to fry with cast iron skillets because they retain heat well, cook evenly, and are just the right weight.
Enamel or stainless-steel would also be a great option.
As far as non-stick pans, some people will tell you not to buy them because the coatings are not always able to stand the high heats required for certain types of frying….while others will tell you that they are a good option because they help keep the breading on the food, rather than on the pan.
The size pan that you need will obviously depend on what you will be cooking.
If you’re making fried chicken, you will need something like a large cast iron skillet,but if you are making something more like apple fritters, you will need to grab your taller stock pot or something similar.
The pan that you decide to use for any type of frying should be
- deep enough to keep most of the “oil splatters” that happen as your food fries, contained in the pan itself
- heavy-bottomed so that the pan will distribute heat evenly without hot spots.
- large enough to avoid overcrowding your food…always choose a pan that is bigger than you might think you need
If you are buying a pan for deep-frying…(more on this later)…you will need to find a pan that will be able to hold 4 to 6 quarts of liquid…deep enough to hold at least 3″ of oil with another 3 inches space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan…something like a 6-quart, or even larger, Dutch oven or cast iron skillet
So at this point, you shoulld have four different types of pots in your kitchen…
- Sautee pan…for sauteeing
- Skillet…at least a 12” cast iron or similar…for panfrying
- Dutch oven or something similar…for deep frying
- Wok…for stirfrtying
2. Cookie Sheet/Wire Cooling Racks…A cooling rack like the one that you probably use whenever you’re making cookies placed over a sheet pan to drain fried food is a much better option than using a paper towel-lined plate.
Setting hot food on paper towels can make your food even more soggy and greasy. Having the food lifted up from the counter onto a rack will keep steam from forming between the paper towel and the hot cooked food.
Using a cooling rack and cookie sheet will also allow you to keep one batch warm in the oven on low heat while another batch cook.
Line the cookie sheet with paper towel, and then set the cooling rack on top. The paper towel will collect any excess grease that may drip from the food.
3. Spider…A “spider” is a wok tool with a wooden handle and a wire mesh basket designed to drain excess oil from foods when removing them from hot grease…and turn food while “hanging out” in the hot oil.
Because spiders are originally designed to be used with a wok, they are generally larger than what you need to be using when pan frying…so choose a smaller one out of the selection.
4. Spatula…You will need some sort of spatula for flipping your food. Metal works so much better than either rubber or plastic, which might melt under the heat.
5. Thermometer…Knowing the exact temperature of the oil that you are frying your food in is so very important.
As more food is added to the skillet, the oil will drop in temperature…and you may need to adjust the heat on your stove.so tthat that every single cutlet is cooked to the same golden-brown perfection.
There are two different types of thermometers that you can use when frying food—candy thermometers that clip to the side of the pabn…’or probe thermometers.
Regardless which type of thermometer you are using, It is important that the be able to nake accurate measurements, especially in the temperature range of 350-400 degrees.
The candy thermometer simply clips onto the side of the pan as the food is frying so that you cacn keep an eyer on exactly how hot your grease is.
This type of thermomemter allows you to control the temperature of the oil that the food is frying in. If the oil is too hot, your food can burn, but if the oil isn’t hot enough, your food can burn on the ourside bvurt still not br cooked through on the inside.
The proble thermometer can be stuck into each piece of food as it is taken out of the pan to get an exact measurement of its internal temp. You at least want the inside of your meat to read 165°F.
6. Tongs… You will need to use long-handled tongs to lower food into the hot oil and to flip items so that you can evenly fry both sides.
Use a second pair of tongs to remove the cooked meat from the oil. It is never a good idea that the same utensils touch both raw meat and cooked meat…might make you sick of something..(another reason not to go eat Korean barbecue.perhaps(?!__…
Panfrying is an easy and straightforward dry cooking method that is used all over the world, giving us such great foods as breaded pork chops and chicken cutlets.
Panfrying allows you to get dinner on the table more quickly than several of the other cooking methods that we have or will be discussing…as long as you prepare as much as possible before throwing the first pork chop into the oil…and as long as the food that you will be cooking is actually food suited for this cooking method.
Panfrying simply involves cooking food in a heavy pan containing a small amount of hot oil over moderate heat until it is brown on one side, then flipping it over so that the other side browns also.
The oil should only cover half of the food’s height, unlike deep frying where the food is completely suspended in oil. The fact that the food actually touches the bottom of the pan means that the crust will be even darker than if it had been floating in the oil.
Panfried foods are often covered with some sort of breading before being added to the hot oil…(more on this later)…
This layer creates a barrier that prevents the oil from soaking into the food and making it greasy
As food is panfried, the moisture contained in the inside part of the meat turns into steam and then has a battle with the very hot oil surrounding it. The steam fights to keep the oil out, while the oil fights to keep the moisture in.
Actually I was a little puzzled about why frying would be considered as a “dry cooking method” even though the food is cooked in liquid.
Supposedly this is the case because oil is actually a fat that contains no water at all.
Even though both oil and water are liquids, oil behaves much differently than water.
Fewer flavor compounds found in food dissolve in oil. This means that foods cooked in oil are less likely to lose their flavor than those same foods cooked in water.
Save water for making stocks and broths, since so much of the flavor originally found in the food will be dissolved into the water anyway..
The goal of panfrying is to maintain a moist interior while at the same time creating a crisp, tasty, golden-brown crust, Pan-fried foods are favored for these browned surfaces, crisp coatings, and tender interiors.
Panfrying is an effective way to not only retain the moisture and tenderness that these cuts of meat such as pork chops should have, but also to add rich, caramelized flavor.
Food that has been panfried correctly should have a moist interior and a crispy exterior that you refuse to share with anybody.
One primary difference between panfrying and sauteeing, that we talked about in this previous post, is that panfrying uses lower heat.
This lower heat is important because panfrying involves cooking whole pieces of meat, not food that has already been cut into smaller pieces before cooking. If your temperature is too high, the exterior of the food will overcook while the interior of the food will be undercoked…(ever cut into a hot piece of chieken only to find that the interior is still pink)…
In these next few posts, we will discuss the right equipment, the proper oils, which foods are best for panfrying…and how frying food can be done so that it isn’t quite as bad for my diabetic husband and my own big fat butt…
When I first decided to take a detour through the different Chinese cooking cuisines, I had no clue that this was going to take up a total of nine posts…what started as one post, soon led into about two or three weeks on my blog.
And all this time I have been thinking back on those times as a kid playing the game of Risk with my brother…fighting over who holds what territory.
But Chinese regional cuisine also poses a risk of a sort…the risk of cooking with the wrong methods and ingredients for taking care of a diabetic…as well as the risk of standing at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet debating between getting Sichuan chicken or Hunan chicken for about twenty minutes and then settling for the orange chicken of the sweet-and-sour chicken like most of us do anyway…
Anyway, on to the next province…
The Hunan Province is a land-locked agricultural hub in south-central China that produces a broad range of vegetables and herbs.
And Hunan cuisine takes advantage of the great variety of ingredients that its rolling hills and beautiful valleys that the region provides.
Hunan cuisine is very similar to Sichuan food, but even hotter.
But the fact that the spiciness is derived from chilies makes it even more delicious because you can actually taste the ingredients, instead of only being able to taste mouth-numbing peppercorns.
Hunan cuisine is not only known for this spicy flavor, but also for its deep colors, oily texture, and fresh aromas.
Another characteristic of Hunan cuisine is an emphasis on sourness. All shapes, sorts, and sizes of pickles are popular in the Hunan region.
As far as meat, Hunan cuisine uses lots of peppered and smoked meats, such as cured hams
As far as spices, people in the Hunan region can’t even begin to imagine life with without chilies. In fact, no dish is complete without chilies…kinda like no dish is complete without sour cream to many people, including me..
As far as other ingredients, Hunan cuisine uses heaps of garlic, shallots, and tofu, fermented bean curd.
Examples of foods that you might find in the Hunan region include…
Because the Fujian province is surrounded by both the mountains and sea, Fujian cuisine can be a true culinary adventure.
This cuisine takes advantage of both worlds by incorporating the best of both worlds..the offerings of the sea—such as mussels, shrimp, and various types of fish—as well as the offerings of the mountains woodland—such as forest-foraged herbs and mushrooms, garlic, bamboo shoots
The people of the Fujian province tend to prefer mild and lightly seasoned…with a great passion for what we know as “sweet and sour.”
The chefs of this region take great pride in their expert knife skills and use these skills to enhance the flavor, aroma and texture of their food.
Another factor that distinguishes Fujian cuisine from the other Chinese cuisines is the use of fermented products…making the region distinct by its reputation for marinated dishes, soups, stews and stir-fries.
As far as meat, Fujian cuisine includes pork, duck, chicken and beef…but especially takes advantage of what the sea offers—such as mussels, shrimp, and various types of fish.
As far as sauces, Fujian cuisine takes advantage of many different sauces—such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, shacha sauce and preserved apricots. In addition to these, orange juice is often used for a little complexity and sweetness.
As far as spices, Fujian cuisine is known for the precise use of scintillating, but not tongue numbing, spices. Fujian cuisine uses sugar, much like Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan peppers…probably not a bood thing for any of my diabetic readers, right?
Examples of Fujian cuisine recipes that you might find on the internet include…
Sichuan cuisine is the most unique of the eight main regional cuisines.
Famed for its bold flavors and use of strong spices, this cuisine was strongly influenced by Indian cuisine.
As foreigners, including Buddhist missionaries and Spanish traders, began travelling through this landlocked, mountain-ringed province along China’s famous “Silk Route.” they introduced the locals to the characteristic spicy flavors of Indian cuisine. The people of the area eventually developed their own unique cuisine based on these influences, a cuisine that is so very different and distinct from any other Chinese cooking styles.
Even though this cuisine is famous for being spicy, not all Sichuan dishes are spicy., many Sichuan dishes taste like fish or fried tangerine.
Let’s take a look at some of the conventional Sichuan ingtredients…
—As far as meat, Sichuan cuisine gives you your typical meats—such as chicken, freshwater fish, and pork…but you will also find more unconventional ingredients—such as shark fins and bear paws. You will also find that air-dried meats are commonly used.
—As far as sauce, Sichuan cuisine tends to use more sesame paste, fish sauce, ginger juice, sweet-sour sauce, garlic puree, red chili oil….(and soy sauce, of course)….
—As far as spices, Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan pepper…lots and lots of Sichuan pepper…as well as chili peppers and garlic.
—As far as other ingredients, Sichuan cuisine leans more toward pungently flavored vegetables such as garlic and onions. Nuts and seeds are also commonly used in Sichuan cuisine.
A few of the most popular Sichuan entrees that you might find on the menu, kook for…
- Chongqing Chicken…China Sichuan Food
- Kung Pao Chicken,,,Food Nettworik
- Twice Cooked Pork…Red House Spice