This is the ultimate guide on how to deep fry food at home safely. Read our tips on how to check the oil temperature with or without a thermometer and how to dispose of used oil.
If you like to eat deep-fried food, cooking it at home is actually the healthiest choice because you can use fresh oil. You don’t know how many times the restaurant is re-using the same oil!
Types of Oil for Deep Frying:
For Japanese food, I recommend neutral-flavored oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, bran oil, etc.
Tools You Need for Deep Frying
- A deep frying pot – I love this 2.75-quart STAUB Cast Iron Round Cocotte in black matte! It’s black inside out, so you don’t worry about any oil stain. Since the pot is not too big, you don’t need much oil fill up the pot for deep frying. This pot is perfect for deep frying food for 2-4 people. To fry a flat food (and small amount), you can use a frying pan. You only need ½-1 inch of oil in the pan.
- Long cooking chopsticks or metal tongs.
- Wire rack and baking sheet.
- Fine mesh skimmer/strainer to pick up fried crumbs between batches.
Optional but helpful
- Splatter screen if you are worried about oil splatter.
- 3-Sided Splatter Guard to keep your stove area relatively clean (I won’t say mess-free though).
- Cooking thermometer to see the precise temperature instantly.
What You Need To Know Before Deep Frying:
- Remove combustible items around the stove.
- Do not put water (momisture) in hot oil. Wipe all excess liquid off utensils or else it’ll splatter.
- NEVER EVER leave your cooking unattended. NEVER! Oils begin to burn at 400ºF and catch fire at 500ºF. If you need to leave your kitchen, make sure you turn off the stove.
How To Deep Fry Foods:
Step 1 – Add Oil in a Deep-Frying Pot
Add oil in your fryer and do not put more than halfway full. I usually put about 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inch (less than 5 cm) oil. Start heating the oil to 340-350ºF.
Step 2 – Learn About Oil Temperature
|Oil Temp||When you drop the batter…||When you drop Panko…||When you put a chopstick…||Suitable Ingredients|
|285ºF/140℃||It sinks to the bottom of the pot and slowly rises.||Spread slowly.||Fine bubbles gently rise from the tip of the chopsticks.||Ingredients for pre-cooking Chinese food, etc.|
|It takes about 6 seconds to rise after sinking to the bottom of the pot.||Spread slowly throughout||Fine bubbles rise from the entire chopsticks.||Thick-sliced root vegetables that are difficult to cook, leafy herbs such as shiso leaves and mitsuba|
|It sinks to the middle and rises immediately.||Make fine bubbles and spread throughout||Bubbles constantly rise from the entire chopsticks||General fried foods such as croquettes, tempura, kakiage, tonkatsu, etc.|
|It immediately emerges and browns.||Spreads vigorously throughout||Large bubbles rise vigorously from the entire chopsticks||Seafood such as shrimp, tofu, and eggplant that contains a lot of moisture.|
Put a piece of panko (Japanese breadcrumb) in the oil to see the reaction.
Put a chopstick in the oil, and if you see bubbles start to appear around the chopstick, it’s ready for deep frying.
Kithcen Thermometer Method
I love using my instant-read thermometer (I use a Thermapen)! It’s fast and always accurate!
Step 3 – It’s Time to Fry!
Do not put too many items into the fryer at the same time. Adding too many items at the same time will lower the oil’s temperature and your food will end up absorbing too much grease.
If you are new to deep-frying, use a deep-fry thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature. It’s critical to make sure the temperature stays constant so the food does not absorb too much grease or burns.
Step 4 – Drain Oil
Transfer the deep-fried food to a wire rack or plate lined with a paper towel. Let it drain excess oil.
Step 5 – Clean Oil
Between batches, use the mesh sieve to scoop excess crumbs, which will burn and turn the oil darker if you don’t take them out.
After Deep Frying: How To Dispose Oil
If the oil is still clean, you can strain the used oil through a fine sieve and use it again within a week. But if you don’t deep fry often, I recommend you dispose of the used oil.
Option A) After the oil cools down, place it in a sealed glass container and put it in the garbage (or follow your local garbage company’s instructions). NEVER pour it down your kitchen sink drain.
They solidify the oil into a jello-like substance and become semi-solid. See the next section to see how to use it.
Option C) Solidify with gelatine. Read Kenji’s method on Serious Eats.