Yes, you can fry with both regular and extra virgin olive oil. In fact, people in the Mediterranean and Middle East have been doing so for thousands of years!
Before delving into the frying aspect, let's better understand the product. Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from the olive fruit. It's a natural product that has been consumed for centuries and is highly regarded for its nutritional value and distinct taste.
It in different varieties, including extra virgin, virgin, ordinary, and lampante, each with its own characteristics and uses. If you want to explore this subject further get our book.
Now let's explore the best practices, smoke point, safety, benefits, and more for frying with our favorite cooking fat.
Should I Worry About Smoke Point When Frying?
No, you should not worry about smoke point for several reasons:
- Smoke point is not an indication of a products stability
- The ideal frying temperature is between 325° to 350°F
- Regular olive oil has a smoke point up to 390 - 470F
- EVOO has a smoke point up to 430F
Therefore, the this isn't an issue and we wouldn't worry about this. Home cooks are usually using relatively low heat for sauteing, roasting, and more.
The only time to worry about smoke point is if you're usually extremely high heat on say a wok. If this topic interests you read more here.
Deep vs Shallow Frying
There are two methods when it comes to frying deep and shallow.
Deep is when you fill a pot or frier with so much oil that it fully submerges the food. This is the method they use at many restaurants and fast food places, especially for foods like chicken, seafood, and french fries.
You can use this method at home, however, it requires a ton of product and can be quite messy.
Shallow is when you fill a pot or pan with 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of oil. Then when you add the food to the pan it fries on the side that comes into contact with the fat.
This method does require you to flip the food at least once and works extremely well for flat foods like cutlets. It's the most popular method for frying at home because it uses less oil and requires less cleanup.
How To Fry With Olive Oil
Here's how to avoid a mess, get crispy crunchy food, and avoid any smoking:
- Prep a plate or tray with paper towels or a tray with a cooling rack.
- Heat your pan on medium low heat for one minute then add the desired amount of olive oil. For shallow frying we recommend filling the pan 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.
- After a minute or two test that the oil is hot by sprinkling in a bit of flour or breadcrumbs. If they sizzle vivaciously then you can slowing add your food. If not, then wait another minute or so and test again. Alternatively, you can use a heat thermometer if desired.
- Once the first side is nice and brown, gently flip your food. Be careful not to splatter. We like to use these tweezer tongs when working with cutlets and fritters, they really help avoid splattering.
- Once the second side is golden brown remove the food and place on the prepped plate or tray to drain.
- Sprinkle with additional seasonings and salt if desired and eat hot.
What Not To Do
Do not ever walk away from a pan filled with oil while it's on the heat, especially high. This is very unsafe and can result in not only smoking but a kitchen fire. This is not specific to olive oil, but to all cooking fats.
Best Pans to Use
We recommend using a high-quality stainless steel pan. However, also love a well seasoned cast iron skillet. But this comes down to personal preference.
We find that stainless steel allows for a very even heat. This is super important when frying because you don't want the food to be patchy or have to flip or rotate the things a lot.
For shallow frying we like to use an 8 inch or 10 inch wide stainless steel pan with a long handle. This allows us to grab and move the pan easily and the size is perfect for things like meatballs, calamari, and artichokes.
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