Deep frying fish and getting it perfect every time isn’t an easy thing to do as it takes a lot of practice and patience. But once you get the hang of it, your friends and family will think of you as the next Gordon Ramsay of deep-fried fish!
But before you start frying, there is one very important thing that you have to get right – the oil.
In this article, we’ll go over the top 5 oils that I recommend and the factors you should consider before buying oil.
How to choose an oil for deep frying your fish
When deep-frying seafood, there is one important thing to consider: the oil.
What kind of oil should you use?
And what are the benefits and drawbacks of different oils for seafood deep-frying?
To answer those questions, we need to look at the qualities a good oil has when it comes to seafood cooking. These include flavor, fat content, smoke point, stability under high heat, cost, and shelf life.
The smoke point
One thing you need to consider when choosing the right oil for deep frying fish is its smoke point.
The smoke point means the temperature at which an oil starts to break down and produce harmful toxins. And a good rule of thumb is if your oil starts smoking, then your fish will taste awful!
As a general guideline, the recommended temperature for frying your fish is between 360 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, corn or vegetable oils work great since they have adequate smoking points (around 420 F) and can be easily found at most supermarkets. The olive oil has a very low smoke point of only 392 F so it’s not recommended for deep frying unless you are going to use it immediately.
The flavor of the oil
Make sure that your oil has a neutral flavor so that it won’t overpower the taste and texture of your fish. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of using high-quality ingredients for deep frying your fish.
You must also choose an oil that is light-colored because dark-colored oils are more prone to break down when heated which means that they produce harmful toxins faster than light-colored ones do.
The oil should impede flavor transfer
What do I mean by flavor transfer?
Flavor transfer means that your oil absorbs the flavor of the food you are frying right now and it gets transferred to the next batch that you’ll fry. So when you are deep frying your fish, make sure that the oil doesn’t absorb its flavor so that it won’t get transferred to the next batch of food you fry which compromises its taste and quality.
A good way to do this is by “seasoning” your oil. What does seasoning mean?
Basically, it means that you cook the same ingredient over and over again in a new batch of oil so that the flavor of the food gets transferred into the oil instead of the other way around. You can then reuse this flavored oil for deep frying until its flavor reaches its peak. This should be done before each use otherwise it will compromise the taste and texture of your fish!
Here are the five oils that are perfect for frying seafood, as well as their benefits.
1. Canola Oil
Canola oil is one of the most popular cooking oils which has been used for centuries. It’s also a healthy option since it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in maintaining a balanced diet.
This oil works great for deep frying fish because it can withstand high temperatures without producing any harmful or toxic substances. But it’s not that good with absorbing flavors from other ingredients so you’ll have to use extra salt and pepper when seasoning your fish.
2. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is a good alternative to other cooking oils, and just like canola oil it has a neutral flavor. It’s also an excellent oil for seafood deep frying since it can withstand high heat without producing any harmful toxins. Furthermore, sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E content which helps reduce the risk of heart diseases and certain cancers.
However, some studies show that people who consume sunflower oil are prone to developing gallstones because of its high level of cholesterol. So make sure you use only small amounts when frying seafood.
This oil is cheaper than corn or vegetable oils so many restaurants prefer using it for deep-frying seafood instead. And even better, this oil has a long shelf life which means you can store it longer than other cooking oils like olive and soybean without worrying about it going bad.
3. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is best for seafood deep frying because it’s naturally milder in flavor compared to other cooking oils. It’s also very versatile and works great for high-temperature frying since its smoke point is a whopping 450 F! This makes it one of the best options if you’ll be deep-frying seafood for a long time.
But this isn’t without saying that peanut oil may have some harmful side effects when consumed in excess, so make sure you don’t overdo it. You can even find unrefined peanut oil which contains all its natural properties, but be careful with that since it has a higher chance of going rancid when exposed to oxygen. If you intend on using refined peanut oil, make sure to check the expiration date first before refilling your container or you may end up with something that’s already spoiled!
4. Safflower Oil
Refined safflower oil contains high amounts of oleic acid which is essential in preventing heart diseases. It also contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that lowers blood cholesterol levels and works great for seafood deep frying since it has a neutral flavor along with great heating capabilities.
But if you’re planning on getting unrefined safflower oil, just make sure to check its expiration date first so that you don’t get something spoiled from the grocery store!
5. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is one of the most popular choice of oil for deep-frying fish in most restaurants because of its high heat tolerance and great flavor. It is also a popular choice for deep-frying seafood because it has a neutral taste that won’t overpower any seafood when used in moderation.
But just like other cooking oils, vegetable oil may have some harmful side effects if consumed in excess. So make sure you don’t overdo it!
And just like almost every other oil on this list, you should check the expiration date of your vegetable oil before you use it or refill it.
What is the healthiest oil to fry your fish in?
Coconut oil and avocado oil are considered the healthier alternatives to deep-frying seafood. Both oils have a very high heat tolerance and can withstand temperatures around 300 C without breaking down or producing bad-tasting seafood.
Coconut oil has been shown in a number of studies to have anti-microbial properties that inhibit the growth and proliferation of microbes. It also contains medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier for your body to break down and metabolize than other types of fats.
Coconut oil is also high in Vitamin E which is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Not just that, unlike other oils, it also improves the texture of seafood by making it crispier, not greasy.
Avocado oil contains the highest concentration of monounsaturated fat than any other type of cooking oil- about 80%! This means that it’s high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce heart disease risk and lower blood pressure.
While avocado oil has a unique, subtle taste that seafood lovers will surely enjoy, it is still pretty pricey if you’ll be cooking seafood for your family all the time.
Tips to fry your fish to perfection
Choosing the right cooking oil to deep-fry your fish is definitely one of the most important things to get right if you want a well-fried fish. But that certainly isn’t the only thing that you should focus on. Here is a list of 5 tips that will help you prepare the best possible fried fish:
1- Don’t crowd your skillet/frying pan while frying. This is actually a piece of advice that needs to be mentioned in virtually every recipe for deep-frying, but many people still don’t pay attention to it. The very first rule about preparing a successful deep-fried dish is to follow the rule of “less is more”. If you want a well-cooked fish fillet or a schnitzel roll, then place only one (small) fillet at a time in the hot oil.
2- Use batter and breading for cooking. Aside from using oils with different fat content, there are other techniques that can be used to obtain the perfect fried fish. For example, battering with a crumb or breading can give your “fish sticks” and fillet rolls a crispy texture on the outside while still being soft and juicy on the inside.
3- Get some air circulation going. At first glance, this may seem like something that could only be helpful for better preparation of a dish that doesn’t require frying, but in fact, there is more to it than that. Deep-frying is one of those cooking techniques where it’s actually very important to get some air circulating around your food while it’s getting cooked because overheating it can ruin the taste and change its texture completely.
4- Have patience when cooking your food in hot oil. If you want your fish fillet or roll to be really well-cooked and moist, then you should wait until it’s ready. There is no point in cooking something for 5 minutes if another 10 minutes will do the trick. In order to tell if your fish is done, simply look at its texture: if it looks too limp and lifeless, then it probably needs more time over hot oil (and vice versa: if it looks like a burnt marshmallow but still seems flimsy inside, then maybe you’ve left it in there for too long).
5- Preheat the oil properly! This may sound obvious but is actually not – many people assume that just throwing a few pieces of fish at a pan with preheated oil will do the trick, but this is actually not quite true. The whole point of deep-frying in the first place is to fry something that would otherwise be way too difficult or cumbersome to cook by other means.
And yet many people don’t pay enough attention to one particular aspect involved in this process: heating your oil properly.
When you are about to start frying, make sure that the temperature of your oil reaches no less than 250 degrees Fahrenheit before adding anything to it.
Summing It Up
The best oils to use for deep frying fish are those with high smoke points, meaning they can withstand the heat of the fryer without burning or smoking.
When selecting an appropriate oil, consider your budget and flavor preferences as well.
In this article, I’ve provided you with information on how to choose the different types of oils based on these criteria so you can find what’s right for you! I hope that my guide will help make your next deep fry experience more delicious than ever before!