Frying is cooking foods by contact with fat at a high temperature, and is the quickest of all cooking methods. It may be considered under three heads, generally known as wet frying, dry frying, and sauteing. A deep pan is used for wet frying, and should contain enough hot fat to cover the food to be fried. This method is used for croquettes, fritters, etc. Foods fried thus are usually, though not always, protected from the intense heat with some material that will harden instantly when heated, and so prevent the juice or flavor passing into the fat and the entrance of the fat into the food. The substances generally used for coating are eggs, bread crumbs, batters, pastry, etc.
A great help for deep frying is a frying basket to fit the pan, as by this the food can be removed at once and without danger of breaking. Do not put too many articles into the pan at one time, or they will cool the fat too much; and always reheat the fat before putting in a second lot. The heat of the fat before using is a most important point. As a rule, the correct heat for frying is reached when a blue vapor rises from the surface of the fat; or the heat may be tested by putting in a small crust of bread; if this frizzles freely, the fat is ready for use. For uncooked articles such as doughnuts, the fat should be hot enough to brown a piece of bread in forty seconds. For cooked articles such as croquettes, the fat should be hot enough to brown a piece of bread in twenty seconds. The average temperature of fat for frying is about 380° F. The fat should not be left on the range when the cooking is finished with, as it will quickly get overheated and burn. It should be allowed to cool, then strained through cheesecloth or muslin. It may then be put aside for future use. If care is taken of the fat in this way, it will keep good for many weeks, and it will not be found an extravagance, as but little is consumed each time. It may seem extravagant to the uninitiated to talk about using abundance of fat for frying, but this method of wet frying is to be preferred for most foods rather than dry frying or sauteing. If the fat becomes dark colored, heat slowly and drop in a few slices of raw potato. They will absorb various impurities from the fat and thus clarify it.
For dry frying only a very small amount of fat is used, just enough to prevent the food from sticking to the frying pan. It is employed for eggs, omelets, bacon, cutlets, sausages, pancakes, etc. The fat must be made quite hot, and then the food placed in it and cooked on both sides. It is seldom possible to use the fat from dry frying a second time except for dishes of the same kind, as the fat is always more or less flavored by the food cooked in it. All fried foods must be drained carefully on soft paper.
Sauteing is best described as "tossing." It is also a form of dry frying, for just enough fat is used to toss the food about in to prevent it from sticking to the pan. A quick fire is needed, and the contents of the pan kept continuously in motion either by moving it back and forth or skillfully tossing the food over.