Sauteing and frying tips and recipes to master two basic cooking techniques

Amanda M. Rye

Shallow and deep-frying can be among the more intimidating ways to cook food — they were for me, at least. Frying in oil is a way to cook using convection, as heat travels in currents throughout the liquid (though the heat is initially transferred from the heat source via the pot by conduction). Here the liquid is fat and not water, as is the case in boiling, which we’ll tackle in the future. In shallow-frying, there’s enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the food, while deep-frying covers the food all the way in oil, McGee says. One of the biggest advantages of frying is, of course, the crispy exterior, which comes thanks to the fact that oil can get to a much higher temperature than water (frying is often done about 350 degrees), allowing for flavorful browning reactions to occur. Breading and batters provide crunch and flavor and also protect the food from the intense heat of the oil. As in many other cooking methods, frying is about managing temperature and food size to create the optimal conditions that let the interior and exterior cook at an equal pace. Among the keys to successful frying: Maintaining the proper oil temperature (insufficiently heated oil can turn food soggy, too hot and it will burn), using a vessel big enough to prevent boil-overs and meticulously keeping moisture out of the oil, which can cause spattering.

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