In my own experience one of the first few things I learned to cook when I was young and still at my parent's home and not away at boarding school was to fry an egg. This is still one of my favourites way to have an egg. First it is fast and simple which is the beauty of frying as a cooking technique.
Duck Eggs. They are rich with an onctuous big yolk centre.
Fried Duck Eggs with nicely rendered Halloumi Cheese.
First you need a little fat in a cooking dish usually a frying pan but you have so many cooking ustansiles nowadays that I can think of plenty but to give another example I will cite the wok for stir frying. But I will get back to this later, as in my humble opinion Stir Frying deserves its own independant cooking section.
Pork Stir Fry.
To go back to frying an egg, there is something for me almost magical just to see how fast the egg is ready to eat when it is encircled by that ray of sunshine that is the little golden crispyness forming. If I go back to my student days when you have to catter for yourself and Mum is no longer around everyday to do the graft, the humble frying egg is singing to you: 'Good Morning Starshine!', the world says hello, from down below... Well, I hope you all know Hair (apart in your food), that classic cult film of the Flower Power era...
Speaking of era, the history of frying is said to go back to the ancient Egyptians... One can imagine, or assume one thing, building pyramids and temples is not done in a day, that workers or slaves at that time didn't have much minutes allowed to have something to eat. Then as cooking in fat made things going faster, less time around the fire and back into work... frying was created. Living around the Nile river, fish such as Nile Perch, the Bolti, different sorts of Catfish, the Barbel could have been perfect for such method of cooking as frying, substantial yet fast to cook and eat. Who said that time was the essence?
Fish Frying is one very satisfying method to cook. You can adapt it to your taste, like pané your Fish fillet before it hits the frying pan.
So frying makes it faster to eat unlike roasting. But what you need is the fat element, an essential part of this cooking method to make it so. There are lots of schools of thoughts around fat. Some says it is not good for you, some says it is fuel for the body, some says it imparts flavours. For all the 'some says', my humble saying is everything can be valuable in moderation.
Butter, Salted or Unsalted is your choice. Now, shop bought, farm bought or home made are another Trio of choices. Think of the three wishes Aladin had to do to the Blue Genie of the lamp... (Sorry Peeps, I grew up watching Disney, but I also read the Thousand Nights...)
However coming from Normandy, I do appreciate my butter, but a drop of oil within it will stop it burning in the pan and allow you to baste what you are cooking with it and to give more flavours: Tip number one. It is the magical butter song that will not burn but enhance your food:
As for butter I am very cautious to how the cows, or goats were raised in order to produce it. I have memories of the Moo-Moos of Normandy grazing upon green pastures under flowering apple trees. It makes me smile, so yes I do like Normandy butter then the one coming from Jersey, the Anglo-Normande Island next. But I also do like salted butter when it comes for savoury dishes.
Let us admit it, if salt can be good for you in some instances, it also can be bad for you in excess. I will return to that subject in a different section about Salt. But if you use a salted butter to fry, you do not have to salt or oversalt the dish afterwards because the taste is already there. You do get the flavour but less of the badness in my opinion if you restrain your hands to reach for more salt at the table. It is a question of balance: Too much or too less. What do you prefer? My good aunt once said to me rightly when I was about 6:'You can put more salt on your fries yes, if you want, but you will not be able to take it away'. I ended up with French fries which were not edible. Lesson learnt about moderation.
Baby potatoes from the garden.
French Fries. The whole world over, lets just say it is a winner of a fried side dish.
To go back to fat ingredients to allow you to fry something, I will advise the same thing: Moderation. I know I will sound like my old aunt. However I will add that when your meal becomes too greasy, it is a little bit on the unhealthy side and your arteries will have to work hard to take it away. I know because I suffer from a genetic condition called FH, so caution is the rule. We could flag a banner there: P P P= Prevention, Protection for your Pulse.
As a rule of thumb, I have not the science infuse into me about the world of fat to use for frying, however I can say that you have unsaturated fat and others which are not as healthy. Vegetable oils are the healthiest if I did read everything correctly: Olive oil, Corn oil, Sunflower oil, Canola oil, and I would add Avocado oil.
I do like to use Ghee when cooking inspired Asian dishes, and Soy oil for Eastern ones. Also toasted Sesame oil does have me in rapture but not so much as frying as for finishing a good Stir Fry, the last drizzle, the finishing touch.
Toasted Sesame Oil.
I must mention Canola or also known as Rapeseed oil. If I may swear, Lord, do I love to see those fields of yellow flowers! If I want to fry something without giving it an overwhelming taste this is my oil of choice. It allows you to have the pure taste of the main ingredient you are frying which is almost all I can say.
Rapeseed flowers from our London Garden feeding Bumblebees.
For addressing the fishy or meat fat, I tend to use them rarely therefore I will say in a rather childish way: Fish oil, makes me think of Cod Liver oil, Mary Poppins and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Therefore a medecine a little weird that will make everything go better in your body. And this one I do not use for frying but just when I have a cold or a flu.
For meat fat, well, in the festive seasons, I do use Duck or Goose fat but in my own admission it is mainly for roasting spuds rather than frying. However I did use Duck fat to baste and cook duck legs, and frying them so the skin of the meat was crisp and the inside tender.
Tropical Fried Duck with a nice crispy skin.
This brings me to another benefit of frying apart that it can make cooking fast and tasty depending on the type of fat you are using which is the crispy aspect it can give. Again here time is the essence but also your own taste. It is like the famous question about steaks if you want them rare, medium, medium well or well done. Your palate decides your choice but also your tastes do change through time. Say it is trial, experiences, you tried new things and happened to like them now which you would not have considered in the past and so on. I went from medium rendered steak to rare, skipping medium rare because of a mistake of the waiter taking my order. I did enjoy the rare steak and the mistake. For every mistake you should learn something... (Family's wisdom)
Nicely fried Chips and over fried Steaks.
So if fast is a given with frying, another gift is to render the outside just as you like it. Your eyes can tell you when this is cooked how you wanted it to be, tender or crispier. The sense of smell as well, not joking... the whoop! I think this is burning. Practice makes better...
You can almost fry anything under the sky. You have to rely on your ability to be sharp when you do so. Flip and turn regurlaly, keep an eye for a few minutes and Bang Bang you have a meal, my Baby is done to enjoy. I will remind you to be cautious when using fat, please try to control the heat to not burn yourself. Fast is good but you do not want to burn your fingers, trust me. Claiming to have Abestos fingers can be a brave brag, but my father passed away due to Abestos poisoning. Just stay safe when you are frying. Fat can spat at you so you need to keep a good eye on the level of heat you put underneath it. However it is a good way to have a meal to do the deal, fast, forward and seal.
My recommendations good or bad are those, I do enjoy fried Fish, but this is my own taste. Since I had problems with simple swallowing, Fish has been a go to in order to have some proteins in my body. The method of frying is simple and fast enough. You don't have to stand for too long in front of a frying pan when your body hurts but when you know that you need to feed yourself.
Sometimes I will say I am eating baby food because it is all I can do and manage during that day, just like the good old Fish Fingers,
Fish Fingers on a bed of Bistro Salad.
But I will say even if you do have to resort to a Fish Fingers way to feed yourself, make it special. It doesn't have to be boring looking. Just Vamp it up a little: A Salad, potato Croquettes, something fast and easy to munch and eat.
There are plenty of fish in the sea... which is just a saying to make you feel better. I do love a fillet of Fish as I said. A nice little Sea Bass makes an evening special, fried a little.
Jazzing up the Sea Bass fillets. If you aim for a tender skin fry not too long.
Now there is plenty of ways to go about it. Some people do not appreciate the skin of a fish until it is crucified in the frying pan alter or not there whatsoever. One good flip of the coin exists when you do fry. It is head or tail. I will confess one thing, unlike most, if I keep the skin of a Fish I render it last. The flesh is tender therefore needs to cook under gentle heat, so first. When the oil is hot enough then flip the Fish to render the skin and to protect the flesh. This is my way.