Deep frying does not have a good reputation. It is considered as healthy as smoking. From soggy fish and chips to fried Mars bars (cream and eggs at Easter), using a deep fryer to cook dinner isn’t the first choice for most people. However, is this fair? If you cook in a wok you can make something very greasy if you don’t know what you’re doing. So is this the case for deep frying? This article hopes to shed some light on this topic.
The first thing to ask yourself is how deep frying actually works. The answer may come as a surprise. It’s not actually the oil that cooks the food. The oil is there to heat the water present inside the food that is going to be cooked. The desired result is that as the water in the food heats up, it steams the food from the inside out. So, since it’s the water inside the food that does the cooking, why is deep frying considered so unhealthy? The reason for this is that unless you fry them well, the oil soaks into the food. However, if you follow the proper procedures, this won’t happen and you’ll end up with perfectly cooked, non-greasy food.
So what causes oil to soak into food? It all has to do with the temperature of the oil. If the oil is at the correct temperature, the water escaping from the food as steam will prevent the oil from entering. If the oil is too cold, the steam released will not be powerful enough to prevent the oil from soaking into the food.
The other thing that can lead to oil penetration is time. If the food has been cooked too long, it will be dry. This means that no water vapor will be released and the oil will start to soak into the food.
Keeping food in the oil for the right amount of time and at the right temperature is crucial for successful frying. Obviously, different foods require different cooking times and temperatures, so always follow the recipe and you’ll get great results.
So, to summarize, is frying food as healthy as eating a salad? No. Is it less healthy than wok cooking or pan frying? Not if you are always aware of the points discussed above. When the frying is done correctly think lovely prawn tempura, it really is sublime and not like the greasy nightmares you see in late night cafes.