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My First Fry

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sorry if the subject line sounds a bit too much like a children's book. It is, however, true. I just did my first frying this evening. We all have to learn the basics sometime, right? There are a few lingering questions I still have, and I was hoping to clear them up here.

1) Frying in cast iron: taboo? I'm using a 5 quart Dutch oven from Lodge and have heard mixed reviews on using cast iron (yes, it has been seasoned) for poly-unsaturated oils. Food tasted fine, but does this mean I can't reuse the oil?

2) I used about 3/4 of a 48 fl oz. bottle of oil (canola) for the fry, which I thought was enough to keep any food from touching the bottom and burning. However, when I put the vegetable slices in I noticed temperature cooldowns of 50-100 degrees Farenheit. Should I use more oil to maintain the heat better, or is there another factor I'm missing?

3) What's a good tempura batter recipe? I used a basic 1 egg, 1 cup of ice water and 1 cup of flour, leaving lumps and adding a bit of kosher salt. The batter turned out great, but I wonder if there isn't an even better version out there.
post #2 of 9
I'll take the oil temperature piece:

You can expect the oil temperature to drop by as much as 50 degrees and that is normal. Much more than that is too much. Try frying the product in smaller batches to stop the temp from dropping too much. It's not just the volume of oil that counts but the volume of whatever you are frying as well.

Also, between batches, you will have to let the oil come back close to the start temp before frying the next batch. If the oil is too cold, the batter will absorb more of it and become unpleasant to eat. If it is too hot the batter will scorch before the veg (or whatever) is cooked through.

post #3 of 9
If you're lucky enough to have an asian grocery store near you, they should stock tempura mix. The only problem is, they sometimes stock more than one, and I have no idea what the differences are between them. Otherwise, the tempura mix is really good. Just add cold water and seasoning, dip, and fry. If you wanna try making it from scratch, allrecipes.com has a few recipes on tempura batter.
post #4 of 9
Uh? Is there anything else to fry in? I'll take that kettle off your hands if you don't want it! I have one of those pro type retangle fryers (got a good deal) but I prefer the iron. What's the deal with polyunsaturated oil, never heard anything about that, enlighten me please? BTW...I have cans of oil under my sink, a southern thing.
post #5 of 9
Cast iron is fine. Whjat to really watch out for is any traces of copper, brass, or, bronze, ( ie cheap brazing on baskets, errant strands of copper pot scrubbies) these will turn your oil rancid very quickly.

You should be able to re-use your oil if it hasn't started to smoke. Oil will break down after 5 or six days once heated. Direct sunlight and exposure to the air also accelerate the break-down.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #6 of 9
A good cooking thermometer would not hurt either. Help you maintain your temp better. You should never fill your pot more than half full because the hot oil will expand when you add your food to it.
post #7 of 9
I ALWAYS use cast iron for at home frying, great heat retention, and consistancy.

I like to fry in peanut oil, great flavor, just make sure who ever is eating has no nut allergies.

Use a sugar/candy thermometer to wach temp, and add food a little at a time as to not drop the temp significantly.

Like some one all ready said, Tempura is readily availble at any asian grocer, or even in your local grocer. Look in the "ethnic" section.

And watch for splatter, easy way to burn the kitchen down, so have a box of salt on hand to extinguish any sudden surprises.
Like all good meals, this too shall pass
Like all good meals, this too shall pass
post #8 of 9
For crunchy texture: egg white, wheat flour, ice water, salt

Turning tempura into cape:

egg, wheat flour, cornstarch, ice water, salt

More 'body' in cape:

egg, wheat flour, cornstarch, ice water, salt, yeast


egg, wheat flour, cornstarch, ice water, salt, baking powder
post #9 of 9
Everyone else has given good advice about the pot, the oil and the temperature. Nothing for me to add.

My favorite batter for light foods is very simple: equal volumes of all-purpose (plain) flour and beer*. (A little salt is okay to add, but not necessary if you will salt the food once it's cooked.) Mix the beer and flour until smooth, let sit about 3 hours. Stir, dip, drip, and fry. Gives a terrifically crunchy, golden crust.

*Just about any beer works, bubbly or flat, cold or at room temperature.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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