To make crispy fried anchovies, deep fry is the proper way to go. Deep-frying anchovies require enough oil in a wok so that the anchovies can be submerged into the oil to ensure the outside cooks evenly. The crispiness of the anchovies comes from the evenly fried surface of the anchovies with proper oil temperature control.
In this article, we will be sharing some tips and techniques to help you make crispy fried anchovies at home.
Tips for crispy fried anchovies
Don’t put in soggy wet anchovies directly into the hot oil
Reduce the water by pat dry the anchovies with a paper towel before frying. Make sure the washed anchovies are not soggy wet before adding them to the hot oil. This will not only cause the hot oil to spatter around, but it will also quickly reduce the hot oil temperature in the wok. Lower temperature oil will affect the deep-frying process and thus resulting in less crispy anchovies. Not only the temperature will reduce, but you will be also frying the anchovies in a pot of oil and water mixture and this leads to greasy and soggy anchovies.
Drain the fried anchovies out from the oil when no bubble is forming
When deep-frying anchovies in very hot oil, the oil will be frying the surface of the anchovies and very little oil will penetrate into it because moisture is escaping out from the inside as water vapour. The water vapour will create the bubbling or sizzling effect during the deep-frying process as they escaped because water has a density and they don’t mix with oil. Once the anchovies are cooked thoroughly, water vapour will stop emitting from it and this is the critical moment to drain out the fried anchovies from the hot oil. If let the fried anchovies stay longer in hot oil when there is no bubbling effect, the oil will start to seep back into the anchovies and thus making the fried anchovies greasy and not as crispy later.
Get the right temperature for deep-frying
The most suitable deep fry oil temperature is between 350 – 375 degrees Fahrenheit (175 – 190 degrees Celsius). Make sure you let the oil heat up slowly until it is in between the optimum temperature for deep-frying before adding in the anchovies for frying. Too low-temperature oil will make your anchovies greasy and soggy while too high-temperature oil will get your anchovies burnt. While most chef can determine the oil temperature based on experience and observations, you can ensure the right temperature too by using some help from equipment like a deep-fry thermometer with a range that goes up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use oil with high smoke point
To ensure you get the right texture and taste of your anchovies, it is important to choose the right oil to use for deep frying. There are two main factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right oil, the smoke point and the taste. The smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to break down (it will begin to smoke) while it is heated. While you are deep-frying the anchovies at around 350 – 375 degrees Fahrenheit, oil with a smoke point above this range of temperature is necessary.
Vegetable, peanut, and corn oil are good choices for deep frying anchovies because they have high smoke points (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and a neutral flavour that will not affect the flavor of anchovies. Olive oil, on the other hand, should be avoided because it has a relatively low smoke point (around 375 degrees Fahrenheit) which is not suitable for deep frying.
Avoid overcrowding the oil with anchovies
Most beginners tend to overcrowd the oil when it comes to deep-frying. Adding too many anchovies into the oil at one time will lower down the oil temperature immediately. When the oil temperature is not hot enough, the water from the anchovies will seep out and mix with the oil. Thus, you will be cooking the anchovies in a pot of oil and water mixture. This will make the anchovies soggy and greasy. To avoid overcrowding the oil, plan to fry the anchovies in smaller batches. Maintaining the right temperature will allow steaming the inner part of the anchovies while outer part of the anchovies to be fried evenly.
Are deep frying anchovies unhealthy?
Most people worry that deep-frying anchovies in a big pot of oil will cause the fried anchovies to be greasy and unhealthy. However, deep-frying food can be as healthy as pan-frying food. As long as they are fried properly (with the right techniques and temperature discussed above), the fried anchovies will be crunchy, delicious and not greasy.
Fried Anchovies Recipe
Why not try out our fried anchovies with onion recipe? Check it out!