The Reason You Should Never Use Tongs When Frying Fish

After carefully mixing up your batter, gently coating each side of your fish, and getting your oil to the perfect temperature, there is nothing worse than finally dropping your fish fillet in and seeing the batter float off or bubble up, leaving bare fish flesh exposed. Your first reaction may be that the batter wasn't thick enough, but you actually may want to take a look at what tool you're using to drop the fish in. 

When it comes to deep frying, tongs might seem like an optimal choice. They give you distance enough from the splattering oil, and offer control as you flip and retrieve each golden-brown morsel. But for the best results when frying up some homemade fish and chips, avoid tongs at all costs. Their surface area and literal grip on the delicate fish will take batter off in their wake, leaving you with unevenly fried fish. Plus, grilling tongs have serrated edges, or teeth, that will more than likely make a mess of your fillets. Here are the utensils you should be using instead.

Pull out the silverware drawer

Instead of reaching for the tongs while you're frying cod or tilapia, America's Test Kitchen suggests reaching for the humble dining fork. It probably seems like it should be used for eating the fish, not cooking it, but forks are actually an effective deep-frying tool. The tiny prongs will gently pierce the fish, giving you a steady hand when handling it. But because the prongs are so narrow, they will remove hardly any batter, leaving just small holes behind. (And besides, the batter will cover those up anyway.) 

But once the fish is in the fryer, put the fork to the side. The next tool you'll want to use is something that lets you stand a few inches back from the piping hot oil. We recommend a slotted spoon that can withstand high temperatures, or if you find yourself frying food up regularly, you may want to invest in a spider strainer. Spider strainers have long handles and a wired cage scoop that allows you to gently flip food as it fries. They are typically made from stainless steel, which can handle high heat without warping. This combination of tools will help you to get evenly fried fish every time.