Frying zucchini, often known as summer squash, begins with fresh, clean, ripe zucchini. Some people choose to dip vegetables in batter before frying, while others rely on a two-step egg and breadcrumb coating. Either way, it is important to cut the zucchini into strips or slices and to pat the flesh dry before frying. Just like frying other foods, it is essential that the oil is contained in a sturdy vessel and allowed to reach a hot enough temperature before frying zucchini.
Unlike winter squash, zucchini has a thin, edible skin that does not need to be peeled away before cooking. It is important to wash the skins thoroughly before eating since zucchini often grow lying in the dirt. To prepare a zucchini for frying, both ends should be removed and the flesh cut into pieces. Zucchini seeds do not need to be removed, so the flesh can be cut into circular slices, long strips, or wedges. Regardless of shape, the zucchini pieces should be uniform in size to ensure even cooking.
Fried vegetables are often coated in either a batter or breadcrumbs. Both methods are acceptable for frying zucchini, and choosing is a matter of personal preference. Batter-dipped and breadcrumb-coated fried zucchini will both be crunchy and golden, just with slightly different textures. Since squash has such a high water content, however, frying zucchini without losing either of these coatings can be tricky.
Sometimes while frying zucchini the coating has a tendency to slide away from the squash. Before coating the zucchini pieces, it is necessary to pat them dry using a paper towel or cloth to remove excess moisture from the surface. Additionally, it can be beneficial to lightly dust the zucchini pieces in flour before applying the coating to help the batter or breadcrumbs stick to the squash during frying. Handling the finished squash with a slotted spoon or wire mesh scoop will be more delicate and help keep the fried zucchini intact better than tongs or a fork.
A light oil with a high smoke point should be used when frying zucchini. Vegetable oil or peanut oil are good choices because they impart no flavor and are able to reach high temperatures without smoking. If a countertop deep-fryer is not available, a deep, heavy-bottomed frying pan or pot is acceptable for frying zucchini.
The oil should always be allowed to become hot enough before frying. A reliable way to test the temperature is to use a cooking thermometer. If one is not available, a small piece of zucchini can be dropped in as a test piece: if the oil immediately bubbles up around the squash it is hot and ready to go. Hot oil is essential for successfully frying zucchini because it will begin cooking immediately and not allow excess oil to seep into the vegetables. Beginning with oil that is too cool or reducing the temperature by overcrowding the pot will result in greasy fried zucchini.
Fresh zucchini only needs a few minutes to cook. When all sides are golden brown, the zucchini pieces can be removed from the oil and drained on a paper towel. For best results, the zucchini should be seasoned and served immediately.