Crisco shortening is a staple in a lot of southern cooking because it has a similar texture, consistency and oil content to lard without the saturated fat. One of the common uses of Crisco is in making crispy fried foods, such as fish. If you find yourself short on Crisco, and are unable to get to the store for more, you may be tempted to mix it with liquid vegetable oil to fry your fish. You can mix Crisco and vegetable oil together as long as you use the right oil.
What is Crisco?
Crisco is a vegetable-based shortening. Most vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature, but Crisco has hydrogenation, which keeps the product solid. This is the major difference between Crisco shortening and other vegetable oils. When you heat the Crisco, it becomes liquid and you can easily mix it with a liquid oil for frying. Another difference between Crisco and liquid oils is that Crisco has a light flavor and a high smoke point, which works well with high heat, while liquid oils vary depending on the type of oil.
Oils simply labeled “vegetable” oil are generally made from soybeans and have a light flavor and high smoke point, similar to Crisco. Other vegetable oils include canola and corn, both of which have a slightly stronger flavor than Crisco, but a similar smoke point. Blending any of these oils with Crisco will give your fried fish a similar flavor and color to using Crisco alone. Other oils, such as olive, sesame and peanut, have very distinctive flavors that may overpower the flavor of the fish. Additionally, olive and sesame oils have a lower smoke point, which means the oil may scorch, which will also affect the flavor of your fish.
Mixing the Oils
To mix the oil, add the Crisco to the pan, turn the heat to low and let it melt. Once the Crisco has melted, you can determine how much liquid oil you need to make up the difference. Add one of the vegetable oils with a light flavor and high smoke point and turn up to your normal cooking temperature. The oils will blend together as the oils heat. Once the oils reach the desired temperature, you can cook your fish as normal.
Changing It Up
While a light oil will give your fish the most Crisco-like flavor, using more flavorful oil can add another dimension to your recipe. Toasted sesame oil will add a nutty flavor to your fish, while extra virgin olive oil will add an earthy flavor. These oils will smoke at high temperatures, but you can prevent the oil from smoking long as you have at least twice as much Crisco as the mixer oil.
- “On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (5th Edition)”; Sarah R. Labensky, et al.; 2010
- “Bon Appetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking”; Virginia Willis, et al.; 2008