Revisiting the deep fryer

07/21/2010 12:00 AM

06/14/2011 11:08 AM

I was scrolling through Nigella Lawson programs on my DVR last week and found one that caught my eye: retro party food.

On the show, Nigella was showing examples of easy-to-make recipes that had been popular at one time and that she found comforting. Among the recipes were cheese fondue, a no-bake cheesecake with a jam topping and, the one that interested me, fried fish, or goujons as the Europeans call it.

I have an admitted hang-up about doing any type of frying.

Especially when it comes to fish.

It seems that I either (a) inevitably don’t let the oil get hot enough or (b) overload the frying pan, which cools down the oil so that the food soaks up too much and … well, there’s nothing quite as gross as greasy food.

Nevertheless, the fried fish looked too tempting to pass up, and because I had just unearthed a deep fryer that a friend of mine had given me, it seemed that it was the perfect time to try out Nigella’s recipe.

Making sure that I had enough eggs and panko bread crumbs, I headed out to get some peanut oil for the fryer from the Pig and a dark side of a flounder fillet from the All Local Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

Peanut oil has a high smoke point, meaning that it shouldn’t (a) smoke up my kitchen or (b) spontaneously combust when using the deep fryer (remember, I said I had a hang-up about frying).

I plugged in the fryer, added the oil (4 cups) and turned my attention to the fish.

Rather than frying one big piece, I sliced the fillet into eight strips each about two finger widths wide.

Then I dredged the fish in the beaten egg and then in panko crumbs. I used panko because it’s lighter and fries crispier than regular bread crumbs, but that’s a personal choice. (Also, I could have added some seasoning other than salt and black pepper at the end, but this was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I didn’t think things through.) By the time all of the pieces were coated, the oil was heated and I started frying in batches.

It didn’t take too long, about four or five minutes per batch. And as the golden fried fish fillets were cooling on layers of old newspaper and paper towels, I started hunting around for something else to fry.

Potatoes! Sliced paper thin, two potatoes became chips to go with the fish.

Jalapeno peppers stuffed with sharp cheddar cheese and rolled in panko became impromptu poppers.

This was getting addictive. I needed to stop.

The fish and chips were delightful. I had enough for dinner for two nights (and the envy of my co-workers).

Now, what do you think I should do with the shrimp that I bought last night? Hmm …

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