These tips will make your batter better and keep it light and crunchy:
1. USE BUBBLES
Our secret ingredient for the lightest results imaginable is chilled club soda. The bubbles from the carbonation are suspended in the batter, producing crisp, crunchy results. Whisk together the batter just before using to keep it from going flat.
2. Keep it Light
For extra-light and crisp results, rice flour is our go-to as it imparts a wonderful lightness that is absent in an all-purpose flour-based batter, making it worth the extra effort when sourcing ingredients for your next foray into deep-frying in the kitchen. Find it at any Asian grocery store or try the ethnic foods aisle at your local supermarket. Corn starch produces similar results.
3. Don't Overmix
Whisk ingredients together until just combined; it's important not to overmix as that produces a dense batter and tougher results.
4. Small is Good
Always fry foods in small batches, without overcrowding the pan: the more foods dropped into the oil, the lower the oil temperature and the longer it will take to cook the food. The longer the food sits in the oil, the more oil it will absorb, giving fried foods the greasy, soggy aftertaste most palates would rather do without.
5. Wide and Deep
Use a deep, wide pot for frying -- the wider the pot, the more surface area, making it easier to heat the oil and fry the food. Use a spider (one of Martha's favorite tools), or slotted spoon when frying, to allow the oil to run through, and transfer foods directly to a wire rack set on a baking sheet to drain -- a paper towel-lined surface also does the trick and absorbs any excess oil.
Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph mix the perfect batter for frying everything from fish fillets to your favorite vegetables: