Fried foods, while not exactly at the top of the nutrition chain, are a delight to make and eat. While the idea of hot oil and drippy batter may seem intimidating, it’s really fun once you get the hang of it. Even my husband, who enjoys eating but pretty much nothing else to do with food, loves frying shrimp. He fried everything in this post, which is not a talent I was aware he had. Because of this, Shake and I had our hands free, so we ended up frying pretty much everything in sight. We also tried two batters and two marinade combinations to see what worked better. Ultimately we decided the best was a simple sake marinade with beer batter. Try frying a combination of things-I’m just giving you a list of ideas this time, the only specific ratios are for the batter.
Safety Note: Hot oil can be extremely dangerous. Do not leave it unattended, do not put any water in it or on it, and keep a lid for the pot and a fire extinguisher handy.
Slotted spoon or mesh scoop
2 quarts cooking oil (canola or peanut is good)
Ideas of Items to fry:
White fish filets
Frozen French fries or tater tots (bake until warm first so they don’t splatter when going in the oil)
1 ¼ cup tempura batter mix I used boxed tempura batter this time because I wanted to focus on the technique of frying, but I found beer was much better instead of the called-for water.
¾ plus 3 tablespoons beer (I used Sapporo)
Pour all of the oil into the Dutch oven and attach the candy thermometer to the side. Heat oil slowly, turning heat up a little at a time until you find a happy spot between 350° and 375°. Be very careful-boiling oil is not a good thing.
While the oil is heating, marinate any protein you are using in sake with a generous pinch of salt. Peel and devein shrimp if using, leaving tails on, before marinating. Pound chicken and pork cutlets between parchment or wax paper to less than ½ an inch thick if using. Wash vegetables and cut into smaller pieces if necessary-smaller things like mushrooms are usually fine, but things like zucchini are better about the size of thick cut French fries.
Mix the dry batter with the beer when oil is at temp (its better to have it at the high end of the range, since adding things will bring the temp down. Keep an eye on the temperature, as it may require some adjustment.) You want the beer to be very cold, which is why you should wait until the last minute.
One at a time, dip your chosen item into the batter. For things like shrimp and vegetables, I recommend a measuring cup (measure the beer into it and you have one less dish to do) and a plate works well for cutlets. Carefully slide into the hot oil, being careful not to splash yourself. Try to let it go gently so it doesn’t hit the bottom of the pan-tongs can be useful for this. Don’t put more than a few items in at a time or the temperature will drop too quickly.
As the items fry, turn occasionally with slotted spoon or tongs. When the outside is golden brown, remove to a paper towel lined plate, draining as much grease back into the pan as possible beforehand.
Serve with rice. I also like Katsu sauce, which is like Japanese barbeque sauce, or sweet and sour. Maybe try a zesty gastrique!
Shake says: We enjoyed Sapporo with this meal, but it would also be delightful with a Junmai Daiginjo (We love “Soul of the Sensei).