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I'm going to try adding some chicken katsu to my usual curry, which will involve deep-frying some breaded chicken breast cutlets for 3 minutes each. I saw this question about removing odours after the cooking happened, but as a deep-frying novice, what steps can I take to prevent them while I'm cooking?

My hood vent does not vent to the outside (an appalling situation I hope to fix next year) so I can't rely on it to do much, despite the mesh and charcoal filters in it. I was going to cook the chicken with a lid on as much as possible, pull out the crumbs after each piece to prevent burning, and then remove the pan from the house right after I'm done cooking. Any other magic tricks I can do?

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  • What do you mean by smells exactly? Oil frying isn't doesn't create that much smell.
    – GdD
    Aug 9, 2022 at 18:17
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    I'm sure I've answered a very similar question before, so this might be a duplicate.
    – Chris H
    Aug 9, 2022 at 19:14
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    @ChrisH I took a pretty long trip through deep-frying before asking and didn't see anything aside from the one I linked to in the question. I'm a pretty active curator on SO so I try not to clutter up other sites when I do ask questions!
    – miken32
    Aug 9, 2022 at 20:10
  • @GdD maybe not if you're used to it? I can definitely smell it the next day when I just shallow fry things with 1-2 cm of oil.
    – miken32
    Aug 9, 2022 at 20:22
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    @miken32 that's probably why I failed to find it! I must have been conflating my answers to a few questions, but also remembering a discussion elsewhere. You've probably seen What is the best way to reduce the genesis of oil vapors and aerosols when frying?; the tips there should be of some help
    – Chris H
    Aug 10, 2022 at 8:22

4 Answers 4

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I hate to be defeatist, but frying, especially deep frying, is one of the messiest and dirtiest processes that occur in the kitchen, if not the worst.

It is not just the tiny splatters of hot oil that cause the problem, the "Steam" that escapes during frying is a mixture of water vapour and oil particles, and as such, it has the ability to travel throughout your house and linger for days afterwards. Part of the difficulty is that not only are solid surfaces affected, but soft furnishings and carpets etc, which are difficult to deodorise.

To make matters worse, covering a pan without sufficient ventilation on the lid will hinder effective frying, as moisture will be trapped in the pan, something that the oil is desperately trying to expel via steam etc.

Apart from all the valid suggestions about adequate ventilation etc, if the smell is really troubling you, I would recommend using an air fryer with just a touch of oil (No more than a tablespoon or so). Not only will this cut down on odours, but will reduce the amount of physical steam. While maybe not quite as tasty as fully fried food, it is a good compromise, and less fattening too !!

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  • Thanks for the tip on the lid, I'll be sure not to do that. No access to an air fryer; my oven has an "air fryer mode" on it, but it's really just superheated air jets blowing onto the food. Would still need a liberal amount of oil to get the same effect. Works great for frozen chips though!
    – miken32
    Aug 9, 2022 at 23:04
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Take the pot outside.

Apply heat in some outside-appropriate manner

  • electric deep fryer or electric skillet, if that's all you need, plugged into outside outlet
  • propane burner
  • side burner on a natural gas grill set-up
  • fancy new-ish high tech low-smoke wood gasifier burner
  • good old Coleman white gas camp stove...

And keep the whole business far enough from your house that you don't mimic any of the folks that burn their houses down while frying whole turkey.

Huge pot of oil, open flame burner, sure, let's set that right next to the house, what could possibly go wrong?

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  • Another options (maybe not in 110V countries) is an electric hotplate under an unpowered deep fryer. I use a cheap one outside to avoid heating the house too much in hot weather (no aircon, I only feel the lack of for it for a few days a year).
    – Chris H
    Aug 10, 2022 at 8:32
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You say you have a recirculating hood. I used to as well, though it was mounted on an outside wall and I replaced it with a vented one.

It is fairly beneficial, but you need to:

Either

  • change disposable mesh/foam filters more often than you think

or

  • wash metal mesh washable filters frequently and thoroughly (a dishwasher on hot, or domestic spray degreaser followed a few minutes later by hot water and a brush, rinse well and allow to dry). You may even need to do this after each deep-frying session to remove lingering smells from the oil stuck to it.

and

  • replace carbon filters frequently. The manufacturer might make expensive ones in plastic housings. I never found them any better than the universal cuttable carbon fleece.
  • turn the fan up to maximum. You'll wish for ear plugs.

A spatter guard as I suggested in a related question might help a bit, because there will be less used oil around the room. But that will need washing well as well.

Note that there are electric deep fat fryers with filtered hoods, if this becomes a habit. They should help, but won't be an instant fix unless you can take one outside

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  • Improve ventilation as much as possible by using an extractor fan and opening windows.
  • Where possible close that kitchen door so that smells don't get to the rest of the dwelling (yes, this is probably a trade-off with the first point).
  • Clean surfaces as soon as possible after cooking as aerosolised oils carrying odour can settle and become progressively harder to clean.
  • If there are particular objects you're worried about don't have them in the kitchen while frying – for me I potentially wouldn't wear a shirt to cook bacon if I wanted to go out in that shirt afterwards. I guess the same might apply to upholstered chairs or things like that.

But really, don't overthink it, especially given you're just frying some breaded chicken.

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    No doors on North American kitchens, unfortunately. One of the things I miss about living in Ireland. Good suggestions though, thanks.
    – miken32
    Aug 9, 2022 at 23:01
  • Your skirt became a shirt!
    – Chris H
    Aug 10, 2022 at 8:32
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    @ChrisH Lesser-known effects of frying bacon? Consequences of writing this on my phone? Who knows!
    – dbmag9
    Aug 10, 2022 at 11:02
  • @dbmag9 given how my phone mangles my writing, nothing would surprise me (even writing "surprise" here took a few tries)
    – Chris H
    Aug 10, 2022 at 12:03

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