How To Deep Fry, According to Vivian Howard

How To Deep Fry, According to Vivian Howard

February 16, 2016

Though not the healthiest way to prepare food, deep frying is often the tastiest way to serve up fish, French fries, and, according to some, Oreos.

But chef Vivian Howard believes many are afraid to tackle the task because the prep work seems too complicated. 

After gathering a few key tools, the restaurateur and star of PBS series, “A Chef’s Life,” demonstrates how to deep fry like a pro without buying a deep fryer.

You need a high-sided Dutch oven or pot,  a deep fat or candy thermometer, and a slotted colander. When you do fry your food, “never put more ingredients in your oil that cannot roll around freely,” Howard recommends.

Also key is using oil that will reach “a high smoking point,” like peanut, grapeseed or soybean oil. “Olive oil and butter are not good options,” she explains.

Watch how Howard deep fries catfish in the video, then check out her recipe below and try it for yourself.

Makes 8 servings
1 ½ cups corn flour or finely ground cornmeal
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 cup buttermilk
8 large catfish fillets
1 quart peanut oil

Whisk together the corn flour, flour, Old Bay, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in shallow bowl.  Pour the buttermilk into second shallow bowl. Pour oil to a depth of 4 inches in a deep-fryer, Dutch oven, or other large, deep, heavy pot. Heat to 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees throughout the cooking process. Dip each fillet into buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into bowl. Coat fillets lightly and evenly in cornmeal mixture. Set aside in single layer while oil heats. Working in batches, slip the coated fillets into the hot oil. Do not add more fillets at once than can float freely. Fry until the coating is deep golden brown and fillets float, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked fillets to drain on a wire rack lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the hot fillets with a little more salt and serve hot.

Produced by Markay Media/Deep Run Productions. Featuring Vivian Howard; Culinary Producer Sheri Castle; Music by Django Haskins

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