I’m thinking about adding a deep fryer to our space-limited kitchen for seafood and fries. Is this a good idea?
– Pat Vahey, Executive Chef/Owner, Pennini’s, Moraga, CA
If you use good quality oil, filter it well, change it frequently, and clean your fryer regularly, you can potentially get away with frying multiple items without worrying too much about flavor transfer. I’ve even fried doughnuts in the same oil as fish without being able to detect the fishy taste.
The reason it works is that the flavor doesn’t come from the oil so much as bits of food that remain stuck to the basket or float to the bottom of the fry pot, burn, and release off-flavors into the oil.
Depending on your volume and available space, though, I’d recommend you take another approach. One fryer with two wells would be a happy compromise between the challenge of keeping one fryer clean enough for all your menu items and the space requirements and expense of multiple fryers. James Feustel, a commercial kitchen designer with Jacobs Doland in New York City agrees. “Whenever we come across both fried fish/seafood and french fries on the same menu, [we] advise the operator to purchase a split pot fryer (basically a fryer that takes up the width of a standard fryer, but has two smaller fry pots which can be individually controlled), and it's always the safest way to prevent flavor transfer.”
A split pot fryer has the added advantage of allowing you to maintain two different temperatures if needed for various menu items. There are many good models available and some aren't significantly more expensive than a model with a single fry pot.