Roberta’s kitchen tips: Deep frying

As I’d promised you a looong time ago, dear friends, here are my tips for what to do with a deep fryer, and how to do it… If you’ve got enough space in your kitchen (and a bit of money, though they’re not really expensive; you can get a decent one online from 25-30 pounds), it’s a very good idea to get one – they can actually do a LOT of extremely tasty things!

The first idea (and maybe the main use for it for many people) is, of course, to fry chips. Simple thing: get a packet of frozen chips and a big bottle of frying oil (for most deep fryers the minimum you’ll need is 2 litres), and get going! Most deep fryers work pretty much in the same way: you take the sieve out and put the oil in, turn the temperature to 190°, switch on, close the lid and wait until the temperature light switches off. Put your chips into the sieve (don’t fill it up too much, and don’t salt them!), and then into the hot oil with them; depending on their size and thickness, they will be done in 6-9 minutes. A great treat for the whole family, and an ideal side dish for guests as well!

This is by far not all, though – you can also fry vegetables, chicken, seafood and even exotic desserts in a deep fryer. Here are a few examples…

Chicken wings, a favourite for both kids and grown-ups, nowhere turn out as delicious as in a deep fryer! The only thing is that the instructions for many deep fryers underestimate the heat they need in order to turn nice and brown and crispy. So, better ignore what it says there or on the device and put the temperature switch to 170° instead of 150, and fry them for 12-15 minutes. You’ll be licking both the bones and your fingers!

Another great use for a deep fryer is frying vegetables, especially those lovely Mediterranean ones like courgettes, aubergines, bell peppers or okra. Again, do them at 170° if you want them crispy! I did a mix of courgettes and aubergines recently, a very easy task: slice them, coat them with flour on a plate if you like (again, don’t salt them; that’ll ruin the inside of the fryer!), and fry them for about 10 minutes until they’re golden brown.

If you like something really extravagant, you can get some seafood from your supermarket or fish shop, giant prawns for example – a great treat especially now in summer, when many of us are on staycation! If they’re frozen, defreeze them, then wash them in warm water, dry them and coat them with flour or corn flour on a plate. Preheat the deep fryer to 170°, put them in and fry them for 5-6 minutes. Then, add salt and pepper and lemon juice; great with sweet and sour or sweet chili sauce!

And finally, as I said, you can do some delicious oriental sweets in a deep fryer; like loukoumades, the famous Greek doughballs with honey. It’s a very old and basically very simple recipe: mix 250g flour, 3tsp yeast and a pinch of salt in a bowl with a spoon, then add 200ml warm water, stir well and let it rest for 1 hour covered with a towel. Then, preheat your deep fryer to 190° WITH the sieve in it, and when the oil is hot enough, open the lid and leave it open. Form doughballs of about 2-3cm from the dough, throw them in the oil and fry them for 1-2 minutes until they start turning golden brown (you can do this in multiple goes until all the dough is used up). Let them dry on a plate with kitchen paper, then serve topped with a generous amount of honey.

A deep fryer can be a highly useful addition to your kitchen equipment; the maintenance and cleaning may be a bit labour intensive, but believe me, it’s worth it. You’ll have to empty the fryer after each use, and pour the oil back into the bottle (you can use it about 6-8 times until you’ll have to throw it out and get a new bottle). Put a funnel on top of the bottle and also a strainer if there are bits of food in the oil, and slowly and carefully empty the content of the fryer into it – and afterwards, clean up the oil that’s gone on to your kitchen surface… A slower but safer way, as my darling husband has pointed out to me, is using a big kitchen spoon; you make much less of a mess this way!

So, dear friends, get your deep fryer if you haven’t already got it, and start frying exciting and exotic new dishes; family and guests will be thrilled, too!

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