Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat. Some of the most delicious Chinese dishes are deep – fried. Certain main dishes also call for meats to be deep-fried for a crunchy coating, and then stir-fried to combine them with vegetables and flavorings. The oil must be at the right temperature—360° to 375°— to cook food properly. The most food-proof method is used to a thermostatically -controlled electric fryer. If you deep-fry in your wok or pot, use a frying thermometer, or test the oil before adding food by dropping in a small piece of meat or vegetable. If it sizzles and skates around the surface of the oil, the temperature is right. If it sinks, the oil is not hot enough. If it browns too quickly, and the oil smokes, the temperature is too high. Oil can be reduced if you strain it and add fresh oil each time. Keep a separate batch for frying fish and seafood.
Deep-frying is another common method of Chinese food preparation. For this a deep fryer or a deep saucepan with a wire basket which fits inside it, is most convenient. Chinese cooks use two temperatures of oil for deep frying. In general when the oil begins to smoke, it is ready to fry pork and beef, the tougher meats. When the oil begins to bubble, which is at a temperature slightly lower, it is suitable for chicken and kidneys. To secure the most tender results, it is important to observe the oil temperature as given in the recipe. Chinese cooks use vegetable oil and lard. Either peanut or sesame oil, or other prepared vegetable oils, are suitable.
The commonest way of preparing deep-frying dishes is to cut the material into medium-sized pieces (or make slashes in case of fish desired to be served whole), soak in prepared seasoning or batter for a while, and fry in hot deep oil with the ingredient fully submerged. Peanut oil is recommended for its high smoking point or critical point, so are canola and corn oil. They can be reused for a couple of times. Butter and margarine are not suitable for deep-frying because they contain water and burn easily. Discard frying oils that have darkened in color, that flow more slowly than they did originally, or that foam to the top of the pot when you put the food in. Lard has become unpopular due to health reasons although it gives very interesting flavor to the dish.