Before foods are deep fried or pan fried, they are normally smothered in a dry or wet coating. Dry coatings are often referred to as “breadings” since they frequently, but certainly not always, include the use of bread crumbs. Wet coatings are called batters.
Breadings can be used when deep frying or pan-frying. Batters are exclusive to deep-frying. Deep frying involves completely submerging the food in oil. It is performed in a deep fryer or a large pot while pan frying, as its namesake suggests, is done in a pan. However, the crucial differentiation is that in pan frying the oil’s depth is no more than half the food’s height. This is why wet battered food must be deep fried; if not completely engulfed in oil, the batter would simply run off before it had the opportunity to cook and coalesce.
The purpose of breadings and batters is threefold. First, it adds flavor. Can you even imagine the dreadfulness of crust-less fried chicken? In a similar vein, coatings also furnish a textural element. The contrast between a crunchy outside and a tender, moist inside is generally pleasing to the human palate. Finally, coatings also provide a thermal buffer between the hot oil and the food. They allow the food to heat sufficiently without becoming overly charred.
Let’s discuss what comprises a breading and a batter. As stated, breadings often employ bread crumbs. Indeed, the “standard breading procedure” as it is known amongst culinary professionals, involves dipping the food in flour, then beaten eggs, and finally bread crumbs. All three elements contribute to the overall flavor and texture of the final crust. The sequence however, has more to do with the cohesion of the coating. The flour provides a base for the eggs to adhere to. Wet eggs will slide off wet food. The eggs in turn form a base for the dry breadcrumbs to attach to.
The methodology of the standard breading procedure is such: First season the food with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings the recipe may require. You may also season the flour, eggs or even the breadcrumbs. Dredge the food in the flour and shake off the excess. Surplus flour can cause the breading to detach during cooking. Next, give the food a thorough dip in the beaten eggs. Finally, place the food in the breadcrumbs, covering it completely. Use one hand for the flour and breadcrumbs and the other for the eggs. This will prevent your fingers from becoming breaded. Rest the food for at least 20 minutes before frying. This facilitates the adhesion of the coating by setting the egg proteins.
Debo's Coconut Fried Shrimp
Copyright 2012, Debo, Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 1/4 cups coconut
vegetable oil for frying
30 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a large, heavy pot, heat 2 inches of the vegetable oil to 350 degrees.
In bowl, combine panko breads crumbs and coconut. Place shrimp in resealable bag, pour beaten egg in bag with the shrimp. Making sure shrimp is coated in eggs. Place shrimp in coconut mix. Making sure shrimps coated in coconut mix.
Fry the shrimp in batches in the hot oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a dish lined with paper towels. Enjoy!
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