Cooking in oil:
In frying, the meat is completely immersed in hot oil. This allows an even transfer of heat like is
achieved in boiling, eliminating the need to regularly turn the meat sample. However, the temperatures
that can be reached on frying are much higher than those reached on boiling – the oil is usually
heated to a temperature of 175 C before the meat is added.
The oil type:
Butter is not usually used for frying because it can only be heated to temperatures of 120 C before it
will start to decompose, and this temperature is not high enough for efficient frying.
Equally, the oil used for frying should only be used several times. Oil heated to high temperatures
degrades, and produces a strong bitter odour due to a compound called acroleine. If the same oil is
heated over and over again, the levels of acroleine become so great that the taste of it in the fried
meat can be detected.
The process of frying:
As soon as the meat is added to hot oil, water at the surface of the meat rapidly evaporates. Meat to
be fried should therefore be dried before it is fried, or the rapid evaporation of surface water may
cause dangerous explosions of the hot oil.
As the water evaporates, the surface dries, and the proteins on the surface of the meat rapidly
coagulate producing the hard crunch of fried meats. The immediate forming of the crust prevents oil
from penetrating the sample, which would make the piece overly greasy. The elevated temperatures
reached at the meats surface allow the Maillard reactions to brown the meats surface and produce the
desired taste molecules. Because temperatures are high, the meat cooks rapidly, preventing
excessive drying out that occurs on long cooking times, especially at high temperatures. Therefore
only small pieces of meat should be fried – the inside of the piece of meat will cook before the outer
surface begins to carbonise, and the inner parts of the meat begin to dry out.
Meat is often battered before frying. The result is that it is the batter that forms the oil-impermaeable