Frying methods

The main frying methods are:

The temperature is important when frying seafood:

  • if too high, the seafood will overcook on the outside, leaving the inside undercooked. The flesh may darken and be tainted with a bitter flavour.
  • if too low, the seafood will absorb more oil and be greasy and pale in colour.

Vegetable oils are recommended when frying seafood.

Vegetable oils are made from a variety of vegetable products such as nuts, seeds and grains, each with its own distinctive colour, flavour and cooking property. Oils may be from a single plant source or be a blend of numerous varieties. A blended oil labelled "salad" or "vegetable" oil typically contains mixtures of soy, safflower, sunflower, corn or peanut oil. These oils are usually polyunsaturated (i.e. they are made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids).

From a health perspective, oil with a greater proportion of mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids is recommended for deep frying seafood.

A blend labelled "for frying", while less expensive and having a high smoke point, is likely to be based on cottonseed, palm or coconut oil and could be high in saturated fatty acids.

Olive oil

This is a healthy and pure-tasting oil, but best for pan-frying or used as a condiment because it cannot tolerate the extended high temperatures needed for deep frying.

Canola oil

Canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils, as it is lower in saturated fatty acids and contains a higher proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids than many other oils. It has a high smoke point, making it excellent for deep and shallow frying.

Hydrogenised vegetable oils, palm and coconut oils

These oils have a high level of saturated fatty acids and therefore should be avoided.

Butter

Butter imparts an excellent flavour and browns food better than most oils. However, it has a low smoke point. To raise the smoke point other oils can be mixed with it, or the butter can be clarified to separate out the milk solids (which burn more readily) to produce ghee.

Butter also contains a high level of saturated fatty acids and so for health reasons should be used sparingly.