Frying

There are three main ways to fry – deep, pan, stir

The grilling process cooks salmon with dry heat from just the one direction. Typically a salmander grills with heat from above and a barbecue grills with heat from below, usually through a grid, grillplate or char-grill. Pan frying methods explained elsewhere also apply when grilling on the flat plate of a barbecue.

Olive oil is a healthy and pure tasting oil best used as a condiment or when pan frying, as it cannot take the high temperatures needed when deep frying.

Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest cooking oils. It’s lower in saturated fatty acids and has more monounsaturated fatty acids than many other oils. It also has a high smoke point, perfect for deep or shallow frying.

Temperature is Key

  • Too hot and you overcook the outside and leave the inside undercooked. The flesh may darken and taste bitter.
  • Too low, the salmon will absorb more oil and become greasy or pale.

Which Oil?

  • From a health perspective, vegetable oils with a high proportion of mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids are recommended for deep frying, (even if not labelled specifically ‘for frying’).
  • Blends specifically labelled ‘for frying’, while less expensive and having a higher smoke point, are likely to be based on cottonseed, palm or coconut oil and may be high in saturated fatty acids. These are best avoided.
As the saying goes ‘butter tastes better’. It imparts excellent flavour, and browns food better than most. But it does, however, have a low smoke point and a higher level of saturated fatty acids, so it may be wise to use sparingly. You can mix butter with other oils to raise its smoke point or clarify it to separate out the milk solids (which burn more readily) to produce ghee. Peanut oil is another monounsaturated oil great for deep frying or stir frying. Hydrogenised vegetable oils, palm and coconut oils have a high level of saturated fatty acids and are best avoided.

Deep fry

Deep frying’s ‘greasy’ reputation is undeserved and only occurs if food is deep fried incorrectly. Properly done, salmon portions deep fried in a light tempura or a flavoursome beer batter can add variety and flavour to your table.

Why?

  • The protective crumb or batter coating seals in the salmon’s moistness and flavour.
  • Quick and convenient, especially when cooking large quantities.
  • Specially processed portions may be deep fried straight from the freezer.

Suits?

  • Salmon fillet portions cut to an even thickness.

You’ll need?

  • A thermostatically controlled deep fryer, preferably with continuous filtering capabilities.

Alternatives

  • Deep, heavy-based saucepan, half filled with oil.

Tips

  • Do not fry from frozen state unless using commercially processed portions specifically made for that purpose.
  • Do not fry with other foods, as the flavours will mix.
  • Do not salt before frying as the salt can cause the oil to break down.
  • Lemon juice, vinegar or tartare sauce help cut the richness of the oil.

How Hot?

  • Heat the cooking oil to 170–180°C.

How Long?

  • Depending on how thick the fillets are, allow around 3 to 6 minutes.

How?

Preparation:

  1. Cut salmon fillets into even-sized portions to ensure uniform cooking.
  2. Protect the flesh by coating it in crumbs or batter.

If using crumbs:

  1. Season the raw salmon and/or dusting flour if desired.
  2. Lightly coat portions with flour to remove excess moisture and to help the coating stick.
  3. Dip the salmon portions into an egg wash (a mixture of beaten egg and a little milk, water or oil).
  4. Roll the salmon in the crumb mixture, usually made from bread, but also biscuit, cereal flakes or even crushed nuts.
  5. Allow to set by placing the crumbed salmon portions, loosely covered, in the chiller for 1–2 hours. When ready, the outside layer will be dry, resulting in a crisper coating.

If using crumbs:

  1. Make your batter (typically by mixing flour and a liquid such as water, milk, soda water, or beer, and often with egg and other flavourings).
  2. Dust the raw (frozen or chilled) salmon with flour and completely submerge in batter.
  3. Remove and gently shake off excess batter.

To Deep Fry:

  1. Heat the cooking oil to 170-–180°C.
  2. Gently lower the prepared salmon portions into the oils with tongs or a basket.
  3. Cook just a few pieces at a time so you don’t overload the oil and make your food greasy.
  4. When cooked, gently shake off excess oil and drain on absorbent paper.

Pan Fry

The quicker, less oily alternative to deep frying.

Why?

  • Relatively quick and easy.
  • Visibly controllable method of cooking.
  • Considered healthier than deep frying by some because it uses less oil.
  • Enhances flavour: different oils or butter can be used and ingredients mixed and cooked in the one pan.
  • Can be used as a pre-cooking method, e.g. to crisp coat fillets before being baking.

Suits?

  • Salmon fillet portions

You’ll need?

  • Stove
  • A large, flat, heavy based pan

Alternatives

  • A flat grill plate
Tips

  • If only coating with flour, do so immediately prior to cooking.
  • Ensure the oil is hot before adding the salmon to prevent it from sticking, but keep
  • it below smoke point unless you want it smoked or cooked Cajun style (blackened).
  • Frying should be done with ‘skin on’ for skin coated with a seasoning.
  • Cook skin side first. Seasoning & skin help control cooking time.

How Hot?

  • Set your hotplate on medium to high.
  • The thicker the portions the lower the temperature to avoid overcooking the outer layer.

How Long?

  • Depending on how thick the fillets are, allow around 4 to 10 minutes.

How?

Preparation

  • Select or prepare the chosen cooking medium (oil or clarified butter etc.) and add it to a pre-heated pan or plate.
  • Decide if frying plain, floured or crumbed…

If flouring:

  • Lightly dust the salmon in plain or seasoned flour, dipping in milk beforehand if preferred.

If crumbing:

  • Season the raw salmon and/or dusting flour if desired.
  • Lightly coat portions with flour to remove excess moisture and to help the coating stick.
  • Dip the salmon portions into an egg wash (a mixture of beaten egg and a little milk-water or oil).
  • Roll the salmon in the crumb mixture, usually made from bread, but also biscuit, cereal flakes or even crushed nuts.
  • Allow to set by placing the crumbed salmon portions, loosely covered, in the chiller for 1–2 hours. When ready, the outside layer will be dry, resulting in a crisper coating.
  • Remove and gently shake off excess batter.

To Pan Fry:

  • Once the cooking medium is heated, add the plain, floured or crumbed portions, flesh side down first to sear the presentation side and prevent curling along any thin edges.
  • Cook over medium-to-high heat until just cooked. (Use a lower temperature for thicker pieces).
  • Turn salmon once only.
  • When cooked, drain excess oil on absorbent paper and serve immediately.

Stir Fry

Salmon’s thick firm flesh makes it perfect for stir fries.

Why?

  • Relatively quick and easy.
  • Visibly controllable method of cooking.
  • Considered healthier than deep frying by some because it uses less oil.
  • Enhances flavour: different oils or butter can be used and ingredients mixed and cooked in the one pan.
  • Can be used as a pre-cooking method, eg: to crisp coat fillets before baking.

Suits?

  • Salmon fillet portions

You’ll need?

  • Stove
  • A wok works best.

Alternatives

  • A large-based, high-sided non-stick fry pan
Tips

  • Do not fry from frozen state unless using commercially processed portions specifically made for that purpose.
  • Do not fry with other foods, as the flavours will mix.
  • Do not salt before frying, as the salt can cause the oil to break down.
  • Lemon juice, vinegar or tartare sauce help cut the richness of the oil.

How Hot?

  1. Set your hotplate on medium to high.
  2. The thicker the portions the lower the temperature to avoid overcooking the outer layer.

How Long?

  • Depending on how thin the fillet slices or portions are, allow around 1 to 2 minutes to cook the salmon pieces only.
  • Do not overcook.

How?

Preparation

  1. Cut the salmon and other ingredients into small or thin, even-sized pieces for quick and even cooking.
  2. Heat a small amount of good quality oil in the wok or pan.
  3. Cook salmon first, remove it from the pan.
  4. Cook the the other ingredients, adding and stirring in those with the longest cooking time first.
  5. When all the other ingredients are cooked, add the salmon back and stir in to reheat and absorb the amalgam of flavour.

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