To create that crunchy coating fried foods are famous for, all-purpose flour is your solution. This kitchen staple is all you need to add a golden-brown coating to fried meats and vegetables and make them irresistible. Use all-purpose flour for all your frying needs to ensure your fried foods are done right.
Deep-fried items are made by either breading or battering foods and then frying them in hot oil. Breaded meats and vegetables are simply seasoned and rolled in all-purpose flour before being fried. For extra coverage and a super-crunchy coating, food should dredged, then dipped in a liquid, such as beaten eggs or milk, before dredging the item again in flour. For battered deep-fried items, the flour is mixed with a carbonated liquid, such as beer or sparkling water, to create a bubbly, thin batter; for a more simple batter, you can use water. Foods are dipped in this batter directly before frying and cooked to golden-brown.
All-purpose flour is the leading choice when deep-frying meats, as it can stand up to the prolonged heat needed to fully cook meats. Use all-purpose flour to bread chicken, beef, pork or fish for deep-frying. Always apply breading directly before frying; season the meat well and dredge it in unseasoned flour or season both the meat and the flour. Boneless meats will cook faster than bone-in cuts and cooking times will vary based on the cut of meat. Small boneless, cuts such as chicken strips and nuggets, cook in less than five minutes, though leaving them in the hot oil after they're fully cooked will ensure a well-browned coating on the all-purpose flour.
Deep-fried vegetables bring a new twist to meals. Dredging vegetables in flour can be problematic, especially when the vegetables are dry. Use an egg or milk wash to get the flour to really stick to vegetables or batter them for guaranteed coverage. Most vegetables cook quickly and will be done before the batter takes on a golden color. Watch deep-frying vegetables closely and remove them from the oil as soon as they are light golden-brown. For root vegetables like potatoes or sweet potatoes, parboil them for two to three minutes before breading or battering to ensure they will be fully cooked with a brown coating.
To achieve a crunchy coating using all-purpose flour when deep-frying, oil temperature is extremely important. Heat frying oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain that temperature throughout cooking, using a candy thermometer if you're frying on the stovetop. Use a wide-bottomed pot for frying and do not fill it higher than halfway to ensure safety. Shake off excess flour before adding dredged meats or vegetables to the pot for frying. Clean the oil in between frying batches using a wire mesh strainer to remove any pieces of cooked flour in the oil. Always drain fried foods well before serving.