As you may have noticed many of my cooking beginning debacles involve fried food. I’m not sure why I try to fry food because I am not particularly good at it and it usually ends with some sort of disastrous results. These include fanning out the entire house and opening all the windows so the fire department doesn’t show up because I’ve built up too much smoke in the house, and standing in a shower with water running over my face continually because I’ve burnt my eyes from the smoke. I’m not sure if it’s my love of Paula Deen, or my distinct love of the south that draws me to frying. This should provide some background for my next cooking beginning. It involves a box of old fried shrimp, and a lot of oil. I tend to buy most of my fried food in the freezer section of the store and bake it in the oven. Back when I had moved into my first apartment (back in the day, oh five years ago) I bought some butterfly fried shrimp thinking I would bake it one night in the oven. However, I didn’t read on the back of the box and realize that it needed to be fried. So I kept sticking it into the back of the freezer thinking I would fry it one day when I had time. Well the time came 2 years later when my then boyfriend (now husband), and I were looking for something to eat and he opened up the freezer and found the “tada” fried shrimp. I couldn’t remember exactly at that time when I had bought it, but I thought it couldn’t have been that long ago (only two years…isn’t frozen food like canned food? NO. It’s not). Even canned food has an expiration date. Anyway we decided to try it anyway so we dumped some vegetable oil into a heavy sided skillet and let it heat up to medium high (which on my stove should have been called “don’t go there high”) and dumped in the shrimp. Despite the fact that the oil was spewing hot the shrimp was so cold the oil popped sizzled then basically lost all its heat. I being the eternal optimist when it comes to cooking just tried to break apart the huge shrimp ice block so that it would begin to fry. As the ice block dissolved so did the shrimp. It dissolved into a disgusting mess, with no actual shrimp left, just floating remains of what was probably breading. And so, we ordered pizza. But at least I didn’t start a fire!
The moral of the story? Don’t cook old food and expect it to turn out well. You’re a cook not a magician. Oh and don’t fry in a skillet unless using very little oil to make say crab cakes. OH and buy a thermometer that can go in oil to know what the heat is, so that way when the food is burning you can say as I did “oh so 400 degrees IS too hot”.