No other method of cooking can reproduce the crisp, dry, flavoursome sensation of deep-fried food. Yet the statistics are enough to put anyone off deep-frying. A half-litre bottle of oil, whether one of the ‘baddies’ containing saturated fatty acids or one of the ‘goodies’ rich in poly or monounsaturated fatty acids, represents 4, 500 calories. The secret, therefore, when deep frying, is to make sure that most of the fat stays on the outside and is not absorbed into the food. One of the ways to do this is to make sure the food is cooked at the right temperature, and for this a thermometer is useful. Maintain the oil temperature by frying in small batches and by making sure the food is completely dry, either by wiping it on kitchen paper or dipping it in flour first. Flour also helps batter cling to the food, and I like food to be battered before deep frying, as this also prevents oil from being absorbed. Groundnut (peanut) oil, soya oil, sunflower oil, olive oil and grapeseed oil are all low in saturated fats and are particularly good for deep-frying because they are stable at temperatures of around 200°C/400°F.
To make the batter, whisk all the ingredients together and use immediately. Pour the oil into a wok or deep-frying pan, and heat it to 185°C / 365°F. While the oil is heating, dip the prepared fish and vegetables first in the flour and then in the batter. Shake off excess batter, and deep-fry in the hot oil in small batches for 2–3 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper, and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Instead of the lemon wedges, serve with a dipping sauce of crushed garlic and ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.