Oils Aint Oils

The good oil

The smell of hot oil and the sizzle of the deep fryer is often all the advertising a fish and chip shop needs to attract the hungry masses.

Deep-frying can be a great way to cook fish – it’s fast, it seals in flavour and moisture, and it gives battered or crumbed fish a crunchy, golden finish.

To do it right, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends deep-frying at 180 to 185 degrees Celsius. High heat means food cooks faster and absorbs less oil. However, higher temperatures will damage the oil. Cook your fish and chips in small batches to avoid cooling the oil too much.

A range of oils can be used to deep-fry fish, including seed and vegetable oils and animal fats. Refined oils are usually recommended for high-temperature cooking like deep-frying because they’re more stable and have a higher smoke point – the temperature at which they start to produce smoke.

Canola oil: a healthy option with low saturated fats and high omega 3, canola is a good frying oil and there’s plenty of it grown right here in Australia.

Sunflower oil: with a high smoke point, almost no flavour and lots of vitamin E, sunflower oil is good for delicately flavoured seafood. ‘High oleic’ sunflower oil is the best.

Olive oil: refined olive oil (not extra virgin) is a good all-round cooking oil with low levels of undesirable polyunsaturated fats.

Rice bran oil: a popular choice in fish and chip shops, rice bran oil has a high smoke point of about 260 degrees Celsius.