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deep frying on stove top


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#1 melonpan

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:18 PM

ive probably deep fried things in my own kitchen 2, maybe 3 times in my life. if i have a craving for tempura or other snacks, ill just go out. deep frying seems messy, dangerous. and the last time i tried not only was it a total failure but i ended up with this yellow and black film on my pot that was a total bitch to scrub off. i probably wouldnt have been so discouraged by the failure if it wasnt for the scrubbing.

however, i would like to begin deep frying a little, maybe several times a year, on a regular basis.

i use five pots and pans on a regular basis: a 12 inch and an 8 inch non stick skillet, one staub and one le creuset dutch oven and a cheap little no name pan that i use for cooking up ramen, etc. oh. i forgot the large stockpot for veggies and pasta.

i do not want to buy a deep fryer (the kind with baskets). ideally, id like to use maybe the dutch ovens but dont know if they are inappropriate. i already tried it in my no name pan. that is stainless steel and developed the sticky yellow and black film after deep frying.

will i ruin my staub or le creuset if i deep fry in them?

ive thought about getting a lodge type cast iron oven. or skillet with tall sides. seasoning it and maintaining it seems like an adventure, but im up for that. should i get a cast iron dutch oven without enamelling? i read from cooks illustrated that "Fries cooked in one of our cast iron pans tasted rusty; evidently, the preseasoned surface had failed. Cast iron is a great choice for a Dutch oven, because it holds onto heat so well. But cast iron will also react with many foods."

have people had better luck with seasoned unenamelled cast iron?

is there something else i should consider? maybe i wouldnt have gotten that yellow film if i used crisco instead of veg oil. *shrug* i truly am clueless when it comes to deep frying.

i really would like to deep fry on a semi regular basis. help me get started. thanks so much!
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#2 fooey

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:34 PM

For quick frying, I use a cheap wok, a mesh skimmer, and splatter guard. The wok takes less oil, heats up quickly, and cleans easily. I just put all three in the dishwasher. They're so cheap that I don't really concern myself with their longevity.

If I need a more stable temperature for longer frying, I use a 10-1/4" Lodge Logic Deep Skillet. It seems to maintain temperature better than anything else I own (i.e. doesn't drop 100 F when I add food to the hot oil). I use it only for frying, making roux, and for lugging along on camping trips, where it's dedicated to bacon.

I haven't used my Le Crueset or Staub for deep frying, so I don't know on those; but, I'm of the ilk that an ugly pot is a well-used one.

Edited by fooey, 12 September 2009 - 01:44 PM.

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#3 snowangel

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:42 PM

For deep frying on the stovetop, I currently use an enameled cast iron pan that looks like this one from Lodge. I like the higher sides which prevent a lot of the splatter.

Prior to getting that pan, I used my Le Crueset dutch oven, and it did not harm the pan.
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#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:44 PM

Fear not.

Yes, you can use a dutch oven; I used my Le Creuset ovens for frying for years before getting a dedicated deep fryer. The challenge of high-sided dutch ovens is that they don't allow for the evaporation of the moisture released with the same effectiveness as a cast iron skillet or deep fryer, but that doesn't mean that they won't work.

the last time i tried not only was it a total failure but i ended up with this yellow and black film on my pot that was a total bitch to scrub off. i probably wouldnt have been so discouraged by the failure if it wasnt for the scrubbing.


I'm not sure what happened there, but I don't think that the deep frying was to blame. Do you remember what you cooked and with what oil? Did it burn?

i read from cooks illustrated that "Fries cooked in one of our cast iron pans tasted rusty; evidently, the preseasoned surface had failed. Cast iron is a great choice for a Dutch oven, because it holds onto heat so well. But cast iron will also react with many foods."


Cast iron is enameled to prevent reactions with acids, but the implications of that excerpt just seems wrong-headed to me -- and would to generations of cooks who have used cast iron to fry.

Why not start with a small project using your enameled cast iron? Grab some forgiving oil like canola, a thermometer, and start documenting. I'm sure that lots of us here will be happy to help out!
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#5 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:55 PM

Of what you have, I'd use a dutch oven. Don't fill it more than halfway with oil, and you'll contain more of the spattering and prevent overflows. A deep fry thermometer helps, and be sure to immerse as much of the probe in the oil as possible to get an accurate reading--it may require tipping the pot. Depending on what you're deep frying, you can use a skimmer, wok skimmer, fry basket, slotted spoon, or tongs to remove things from the oil. When using tongs for deep frying, be careful always to point the tongs with the working end downward, or you'll have hot oil dripping down your arm.

Also, in case it's not obvious, never leave a pan of hot oil on the fire unattended. I've never had an uncontrolled kitchen fire, but I think every unplanned flare up I've had has involved deep frying.

You can find fry baskets that fit perfectly in a saucepan with sloped sides. A basket like this and a matching aluminum saucepan shouldn't be too costly from a restaurant supply, if you want to designate a pot for deep frying.

Also, I agree with Chris that you shouldn't have a problem deep frying in cast iron. Perhaps Cooks Illustrated was just using a new pot that hadn't been thoroughly cleaned and properly seasoned. I'm dubious of "preseasoning" as a concept.

If you're left with something hard to clean, try Easy-Off or another lye-based oven cleaner. It's very effective at removing hard black baked-on grease without requiring much physical effort.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 12 September 2009 - 01:57 PM.


#6 Lisa Shock

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 02:58 PM

Deep frying in plain cast iron can cause oxidation of some fats, which results in carcinogenic substances associated with rancidity. (remember, oil can be rancid and have no odor) This isn't a problem with some saturated fats, but, most people don't deep fry in pure lard anymore, either. Alton Brown covers this in an episode of Good Eats. The enamel-ware is the way to go. Remember, always use a pan with high sides and a thermometer.

#7 melonpan

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:33 PM

thank you all!

ill try with the dutch ovens i already have.

i was frying nori in the cheap stainless steel ramen pot and i used canola oil. i did not burn the nori but i still got the yellow/black sticky layer. i did try easy off 3 times on 3 separate occasions but it never completely came off, either on the inside or on the outside. after half a year of scrubbing whenever i use the pot, the black stuff is only now beginning to come off.

i didnt want to ruin my other pots, but i think i will used the enamelled pots without fear.

thanks again everyone!
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#8 melonpan

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:34 PM

i may also consider getting one of the lodge deep sided pots later on. but for now at least i know i can used the enamelled stuff...
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#9 Blether

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 09:46 PM

Hi, melonpan. My deep-frying rig is a black-finished cast iron pot/dutch oven (it has a matching lid). I keep oil in it and use it only for deep-frying.

This pot was originally a present, but we found that for stews, the black finish dissolved in the food - beef in red wine came back an ominous grey-maroon; even a straight beef & veggie number turned darkly ugly. For years this thing sat in cupboards; a couple of years back I got it out & attacked it on the inside with wet-and-dry or something of that sort - but the surface is kinda rough. In the end I thought it could earn its keep as deep-fryer and oil-storage, both.

There'll always be splash on the inside of the pan, and always the odd oil-run down the outside - like you, I found that even with very little deep-frying, a bright-metal pot will soon get pretty claggy. The black-finish cast iron disguises this nicely.

Cast iron isn't the best of conductors, but in deep frying you don't worry so much about an even heat over the base of the pan. As others have said, cast iron holds a lot of heat and so resists temperature drop when you immerse the food. The downside for me, is that it's hard to control the temperature. You can heat that sucker up till the oil's at 180C, but if you turn down the flame at that point it'll keep on getting hotter for several minutes. This you can learn how to handle. What's more difficult is getting a hang of gas adjustments for the different temperature drop of different foods and different volumes of food. That said, I don't want to throw out something with sentimental value, and my cast iron and I soldier on together. By now I have some feel for the constant flame needed to maintain temp, and I co-ordinate the 'heat overrun' with dropping the food in. I use one of those shabu-shabu foam skimmers both to move & remove food, and to clean up leftover crumbs. The flat pot lid makes a handy rest for it, turned over on the work surface by the stove.

Given a blank slate, my ideal would be:

A dedicated electric deep fryer, and the counter space for it - not like the 1100W (or was it 800?) Twinbird a friend bought - it barely had the oomph to heat up the oil, far less fry anything. On the other hand, a good deep fryer has the convenience of a resting position for the basket above the oil, and it's the only ready-made or easily-improvised solution that'll give you protection in the unlikely event that an earthquake coincides in your home with a vat of hot oil.

A dedicated deep pot and a basket that'll fit - use a deep pot and a shallower basket, so that the extra oil below the basket is your heat reservoir. This is what I recommended to my friend. At Mitaka J-Mart we found separately a deep 24cm aluminium pot, and a basket with a rim that nestled exactly on top of the pot rim. Single disadvantage - the basket handle doesn't fold for storage. Total cost was about 3,000yen or 4,000yen.

Are you actually in Japan ? The final option would be one of those containers you can buy here specifically for storing oil, and one of your existing pots. That oil-glaze may be ugly, but I'd argue it's not killing anyone, and second Fooey on "ugly pot ? So what ?".

Edited by Blether, 12 September 2009 - 09:51 PM.

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#10 HungryC

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:50 AM

The sticky residue was polymerized oil, and it is indeed a pain (or nearly impossible) to scrub off. The ideal vessel for deep-frying on the stovetop is a pot called a "chicken fryer" (here's an example on Amazon). It's slightly wider than it is deep, around 5 or 6 quarts to allow for the fat to bubble up, and it always comes with a lid (in case you need to smother a grease fire, or if you want to keep the oil on the stovetop in said pot). Aluminum chicken fryers are pretty cheap ($40 or so), and many come with a lifting basket; worth buying, imho, even if you're frying just a few times a year. You won't feel compelled to scrub off the polymerized oil if it's on your frying pot.

On to the oil: I would never, ever use canola for deep frying, as it very quickly develops an off-putting odor, esp at higher temps. My fryin' oil of choice is peanut. It's pretty stable, even at high temps. Some claim that a peanutty flavor can be detected, but I've never perceived it (in either the fresh oil, the fried foods, or the older, reused oil). Lard is a fine thing, but it is hard to find good lard unless you render it yourself. (or try this old trick: deep-fry a slice of bacon in your vegetable oil to get the delicious porky flavor without the saturated fat).

A good vented exhaust hood is probably the most important part of home frying!

#11 fooey

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 09:23 AM

Ditto on peanut oil. It's my favorite as well, but it's so expensive, at least in the western US. (I guess we don't have peanut farms nearby?)

To fill that chicken fryer half full would cost $20.
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#12 CtznCane

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:08 AM

I too use a wok for stovetop frying. Wok's are cheap, especially if you live near a chinatown. You can get a Joyce Chen flat bottomed peking pan (basically a wok with a different handle) cheap at BB&B (under 15 dollars I think) and I got my largest wok in chinatown for about 20. With the wok, whether round or flat bottomed, you also get arguably the most useful pan you can have as well. Most importantly though, they are great for frying.
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#13 Chris Amirault

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 11:16 AM

In a perfect world I'd use peanut oil too, but lack the budget and thus suggested canola to start. Doesn't that fishy smell develop only after multiple uses?
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#14 HungryC

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 11:57 AM

In a perfect world I'd use peanut oil too, but lack the budget and thus suggested canola to start. Doesn't that fishy smell develop only after multiple uses?

I think canola oil stinks from the very moment the container is opened! I always detect "off" flavors in canola; it's awful for roux-making, starts smelling funny almost from the start.

RE: prices of peanut oil...1 gallon of Lou-Ana peanut oil (made in lovely Opelousas, LA) at my local Sam's Club is $13.47, whereas a gallon of canola is $7.98. It's well worth the measly difference of $5.49. At Academy Sporting Goods, a gallon of peanut oil is less than $10. After Thanksgiving, the big 5-gallon containers go on sale for pretty cheap in my neck of the woods. If peanut oil breaks the bank, my fallback is soybean. You can keep the canola, at any price.

#15 Shalmanese

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 01:03 PM

ive probably deep fried things in my own kitchen 2, maybe 3 times in my life. if i have a craving for tempura or other snacks, ill just go out. deep frying seems messy, dangerous. and the last time i tried not only was it a total failure but i ended up with this yellow and black film on my pot that was a total bitch to scrub off. i probably wouldnt have been so discouraged by the failure if it wasnt for the scrubbing.


Are you on a gas stove? If so, the problem might be you're using too big a burner for your pot. The flames are licking up the side and heating up the oil splattered on the sides of the pot, causing it to discolor. Try moving to a smaller flame or using a flame tamer to prevent the problem.
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#16 onrushpam

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:08 PM

I don't deep fry often, but when I do, I use my 50+ year old Griswold castiron chicken fryer (the antique version of the Lodge one that's been linked to in this thread). Peanut oil. Only peanut oil. I do use canola for some things, but for deep frying, it has to be peanut oil.

We don't have good exhaust in the kitchen, so I try to do it on the sideburner of our gas grill.

#17 Pam Brunning

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:21 PM

Sunflower oil is good and an induction hob is best for deep frying. Ultimate temperature control and no danger from naked flame etc.
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#18 melonpan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:07 PM

i do use a gas stove. and i will be using peanut oil from tomorrow on.

i just made some fried green tomatoes in my dutch oven. turned out well!

thank you all so much for the suggestions and tips!
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#19 melonpan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:24 PM

(while fried green tomatoes isnt deep frying, i did use a lot of oil. and it turned out well. i never had them before. they were delicious)
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

#20 Marlene

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:59 PM

I have both a dedicated deep fryer and an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I have gravitated lately to using the dutch oven for deep frying, especially for chicken. It is a snap to clean up and I don't worry about breading sticking to the fry basket. I just fish the fried foods out with a spider.
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#21 melonpan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 09:30 PM

besides fried chicken (another thing ive never made) ive always wanted to make fried donuts. i will probably try some out this coming weekend. cinnamon donuts....

oh. i wanted to ask, what the general consensus amongst the thread readers here about crisco? esp with respect to peanut oil. for anything, sweet or savoury. thanks again for your help!
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#22 Pierogi

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:33 PM


In a perfect world I'd use peanut oil too, but lack the budget and thus suggested canola to start. Doesn't that fishy smell develop only after multiple uses?

I think canola oil stinks from the very moment the container is opened! I always detect "off" flavors in canola; it's awful for roux-making, starts smelling funny almost from the start.

I find that the cheaper grades of canola are the worst offenders, and I would certainly never use them for deep frying. I'm to the point I won't even use them for sauteeing any longer. The nasty fish smell is immediate, and permeates the food to a point that it's inedible. Much as I adore Trader Joe's, and think their private labeled products are awesome, their brand of canola is probably the stinkiest of all. I have about 1.5C of it left in my pantry, and I won't replace it. There is a "premium" brand of canola, I believe its called "Canola Harvest" maybe.....anyway, that's not too bad, but it costs almost as much as peanut oil.

If I were doing a lot of deep frying, and was doing things where I could filter the oil, and reuse it, I'd use peanut for sure. Otherwise, probably corn oil.

But NOT canola.
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#23 fooey

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:32 PM

If you're looking for peanut oil in volume (and make this face :shock: when you see $10 for 1L of peanut oil), try your local Asian market.

That's where I find the best price, often 50-75% less than elsewhere.

Edited by fooey, 14 September 2009 - 01:32 PM.

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#24 CtznCane

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 08:30 PM

Peanut oil has many pluses, but like many perhaps, I find the price difference to make it prohibitive for using too often. The other drawback is if I'm having guests over I don't want to risk someone having a peanut allergy and always having to remember to ask people about food allergies.

I too am one who has never cared for canola oil I am however quite pleased with just using Wesson Vegetable (soybean) oil. I've always had real good results and its price is usually about that of canola.
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