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I looking to do some basic oil frying in my house. I have a gas stove.

What is the best vessel to use and why? I am mainly worried about spilling oil all over the place.

I read an article from serious eats where they recommend using a basic 14 inch wok for the job since oil will not supposedly splatter.

Has anyone tried using a wok for deep frying with good results? What is you recommended vessel for the job?

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There are 5-6 processes commonly lumped as "frying", and there are different pans best for each of them. What are you trying to do? –  rumtscho May 31 at 23:02
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3 Answers 3

My parents used a wok way back when to make spring rolls, but it depends on what you're using it for.

A cast iron skillet will work for a lot of things, but you don't really get a deep-fry from it. It is great for quickly frying up chicken parts to finish in the oven or frying up cutlets/katsu/schnitzel.

A deep sauce pan or dutch oven works well if you are actually trying to deep-fry. You can put 2-4 inches of oil in it and still only be a third of the way up the vessel. This will allow you to submerge the items you are frying, and still not have the oil close to the top.

As for materials, you can go two ways. A thinner material like aluminum or stainless will respond quickly to the heat you put on it. This works both ways of course, since it means the oil will cool down more quickly if the heat gets too low. Cast Iron is good in this regard (enameled or bare) because it retains the heat. When you add items, it cools the oil, so to maintain the proper temperature and keep food from absorbing more of the grease, cast iron should work better in this regard. Using a gas stove may make this less of an issue though.

As for spatter, you are going to get it regardless. The spatter comes from moisture in the food being violently repelled by the oil. It sinks into the hot oil, boils into steam, and then makes a mess of your stove. A little spatter is to be expected; just make sure your food is as dry as possible before placing it in the oil. Spatter-screens can also help.

EDIT: I found a link that talks about deep frying. Most pertinent to your question is to use a deep-sided pan. This keeps the oil from spilling over when you add your fryables, and also helps to minimize splatter. It will be there, but more will be 'caught' by the pan.

Six Steps for Deep Frying Without a Deep Fat Fryer

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+1 for the dutch oven suggestion. It is important to maintain a consistent heat for proper deep-frying. Don't forget to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of your oil. This will help to minimize spatter, as will making sure that the surface of your food is as dry as possible before adding to the pot. –  logophobe May 28 at 19:40
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A stainless steel pot which is deeper than the frypan or even wok works great.

As far as performance is concerned, once you have enough oil in the vessel, the liquid will do the heat distribution so the fancy-pants-bottom of the vessel technology is less important.

Better for safety:

  • The taller walls of the pot help prevent grease fire by containing the flare up and not allowing it to reach the gas flame. (humidity in the food can cause the oil to bubble over the lip of the vessel and "kiss the flame" resulting in a real call to the fire department). Keep ample room the vessel for the oil to 'grow'.

  • The taller walls also help reduce splatter aimed at you.

  • Thoroughly clean your stove and hood/grill/baffle after. The grease that collects in your hood filter is fuel. (see the splatter guard info below)

As for the splatter, you can use a Splatter Guard to save your gas stovetop from the oil splatter. It also helps keep the oil away from your hood. A ride through the dishwasher makes it good and ready for next time.

splatter guard

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A good, heavy Dutch oven is the best way to go. The biggest problem when it comes to splattering is overfilling the pot. You want several inches between the top of the oil and the rim of the pot AFTER the food is added, so the oil will only fill 1/3-1/2 of the pot before you add the food.

But, when it comes to deep frying, it's all about the oil retaining its temperature. The temperature will dip when you add the food, but a good, heavy pot will recover much more quickly than a thin-walled pot because the thick metal in the heavy pot is better at retaining and conducting heat. Shallower pans such as skillets also need to be heavy (cast iron or All-Clad) for good frying, but you'll be limited to thin foods like cutlets or fish fillets.

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