Chef Sang Yoon schooled the crowd in frying at the 33rd annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen today and reminded everyone that fried doesn't have to mean unhealthy. "There's more fat in a lot of salad dressings then there is in fried chicken. Food has a lot of water in it and oil and water don't mix. If your food is greasy, you're doing it wrong," he says.
Follow these simple steps for light, crispy dishes.
1. Use something carbonated like club soda or beer in batter for lightness. Yoon prefers beer because it has protein. "Protein creates webbing so it gives batter structure and creates a barrier to help keep frying oil from getting into food and making it greasy," says Yoon.
2. Use baking powder in batter to add crispness. Batter should look like loose pancake batter and a few lumps are OK.
3. Make sure your oil is between 350 and 375 degrees for frying, it will start to smoke above 400 degrees, which you want to avoid. Yoon likes to use peanut oil. If allergies are an issue he uses sunflower or canola oil.
4. A wok is really the best pan to use for frying. You just need a wok ring and you're ready to go.
5. You can reuse frying oil for about 3 weeks if you store it in a cold dark place. Be sure to skim it first then strain it after it has cooled.
6. For a super crispy coating on something like whole fish, use a dry dredge, not batter. Yoon likes a combination of corn starch, tapioca starch and salt and pepper. If frying a whole fish be sure to score it and tuck some of the mixture in between the score marks. "Frying a whole fish like this makes it less oily than sauteeing a fillet in oil," he says.
7. No matter what you fry be sure to lightly season it with salt and pepper after it's cooked.