Pan-Fry

How to Get Over Your Fear of Frying

June  8, 2013

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going. 

Just as Superman had his Kryptonite, even the most seasoned home cooks have their weaknesses. Some are terrified of pie dough -- will it roll out? Or a soufflé -- will it fall immediately? Or poaching an egg -- will it ever come together?

Shop the Story

Frying can be terrifying, too. Do it right and you'll end up with the perfect crust: browned, crunchy, and hiding the tender insides. But do it wrong and you'll find yourself battling splattering oil and scraping the burned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Luckily, you never fail to impress us with your tips. Here are some of your best for optimizing the frying process:

  • Pegeen recommends using a large, heavy pot in order to minimize oil splatter. A splatter guard will help protect your hands and face from hot oil (and also comes in handy for making bubbly sauces in a skillet).
  • Heat the pan before you add the oil, suggests sfmiller. Then, use a high-heat instant read thermometer to keep tabs on your oil temperature. The oil will cool after you add the food, so raise the heat until it comes back to the desired temperature.
  • Instead of dropping the food from a height, gently slip it into the oil. If you're scared of hot oil, ATG117 advises using tongs.

What are your no-fail techniques for frying? Answer the question on the Hotline here, or continue the conversation in the comments below!

14 Comments

Pegeen June 11, 2013
mommysinthekitchen, just saw a useful article in dining section of NY Times about frying outside to avoid smell in the house (I dislike it too). Just use an inexpensive propane camping grill and put frying pan on top. The grills are small, so not hard to store.<br />June 3, "Frying Outdoors, It's No Mistake"<br />http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/dining/frying-with-gas-is-not-a-mistake.html?_r=0
 
Desert D. June 10, 2013
My fear of frying started last thanksgiving, when I attempted fried brussels sprouts and the oil bubbled over the fryer and cascaded down the counter and all over the floor of my mother-in-law's house. I think I know what I did wrong (too much oil/oil too hot/I dropped the sprouts and ran instead of pulling them out fast), but the worst part by far was trying to clean the floor as guests arrived. What's the best way to clean up cooking oil? Nothing seemed to get it ALL.
 
Jason N. June 9, 2013
Remember, the dryer the item you're frying the less likely for splattering to occur. Make sure hands and utensils are dry as well. Water and oil, bad combo!!
 
vi1715 June 9, 2013
It would be helpful to get a distinction on the types of frying oil and what works best for certain types of protein/veggies. For example I've seen on certain cooing shows the use of peanut out over vegetable or canola over olive oil.
 
Jul T. June 9, 2013
A quick way to drain the tasty morsels is on a mesh splatter cover for fry pans. Lay over a plate and it's easy draining!
 
twinjadojo June 9, 2013
Oh hey! This was my question. So grateful for this wonderful community of cooks and bakers. And glad to be reminded that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. Thanks for the wonderful advice, everyone!
 
Kenzi W. June 9, 2013
This is so true!
 
Tokyo Y. June 9, 2013
Here is something really counter-intuitive about frying. Put frozen foods in with the oil at room temperature. I often make more than one meals worth when I make croquettes and gyoza dumpling; freezing them for another use. To fry them, pour the oil into your pan, put your frozen food items in the cold oil. Put a lid on it and turn on the burner. When the oil starts to heat, you will see steam rising out and splatter noises. Uncover and finish cooking when the steam and splatter die down. No mess frying! (Works for french fries, too. Cut up your potatoes, rinse, drain and towel dry. Immerse in room temp oil and heat up oil. You will get crispy fries!
 
Lusy B. June 9, 2013
Never heard of this before, doesn't the food get greasy?
 
Tokyo Y. June 9, 2013
Nope! When the food is frozen, it doesn't absorb oil - as it heats up, the water on the food is vaporized instead of spattering - and you end up with crunchy rather than soggy. Like I said - it seems counterintuitive - try it!
 
Lusy B. June 9, 2013
Thanks so much! I'll try it for sure!
 
And any tips for managing the lingering odors from frying appreciated too!
 
Tokyo Y. June 9, 2013
I often use the side burner on my gas grill - and just fry outside!
 
Pegeen June 11, 2013
mommysinthekitchen, just saw a useful article in dining section of NY Times about frying outside to avoid smell in the house (I dislike it too). Just use an inexpensive propane camping grill and put frying pan on top. The grills are small, so not hard to store.<br />June 3, "Frying Outdoors, It's No Mistake"<br />http://www.nytimes.com...