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Dec 10, 2001 05:54 PM

fishy cookware

  • j


As I was frying some eggs this morning, I noticed a very faint fishy smell. I wondered if this was a strange sign that my eggs had turned really bad (first sulphur, then fish maybe) but the aroma was fleeting so I ignored it. However, when I took my first bite, I definitely noticed a very, very slight fishy taste. Then I remembered the last thing I had cooked in this skillet was salmon. What I was tasting was a bit of fish oil residue.

Now, I am positive that I washed this pan very well because I recently got into an argument with my s.o. about his less-than-great pot washing skills and now make it a point to wash especially smelly pans myself with scalding hot water and copious amounts of detergent. Also, after I washed the skillet this morning (several times since I was now quite paranoid about the issue) I let it dry and then sniffed it. It smelled very faintly of the fried eggs and soy sauce (my mom always made them that way; maybe it's a Chinese thing, I don't know) I had cooked this morning.

Now I'm wondering is it me? Is there a special way to wash pans that I'm missing? Is it the pan (it says Calphalon on the bottom but I'm not sure what specific line, though I think it's nonstick anodized aluminum)? Would I still have this problem if I used a pan with a stainless steel interior? Would it be worse with cast-iron or the like? What about non-stick surfaces?

This group seems pretty opinionated about cookware, so I'm expecting some good insights. ;-) Thanks!

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  1. I have the same problem sometimes when I use my non-stick grill pan. The rest of my cookware is stainless steel and I've never had that problem with it. Maybe non-stick has a tendency to absorb fish oils?

    3 Replies
    1. re: 2chez mike

      I have that problem with non-stick, and my cast-iron is the worst...When I dry them over the stove, the whole house smells..Gottah try that baking soda trick..Thanks!

      1. re: galleygirl

        Cast iron is a very porous metal. That's why it needs to be seasoned with cooking oil before you use it. But cast iron will absorb fish oil as readily as any other oil. If you like cast iron, you might consider getting an extra pan for fish only.

        1. re: 2chez mike

          Probably a good idea...i have a bunch, but i should make one fish only!

    2. Whenever you cook fish in anything, let the pan soak for a while in warm water and about 2 tsp baking soda.

      1. Hi, I was interested in your fried eggs with soy sauce - is this the recipe where the eggs are bathed in sweetened soy at the end of the preparation? How do you make it?

        12 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Interesting, my mother also does a fried egg with soy sauce thing. She lightly fries an egg (sunnyside-up style, but really runny) then plops it right on top of a bowl of rice and hits it with a few splashes of soy sauce. To eat, she pokes the thing apart with her chopsticks and stirs it in with the rice. (I imagine that the residual heat from the rice cooks the popped yolk.) This is often eaten with the classic old-Chinese-dowager meal of rice with steamed salted fish and stirfried greens. (I suspect the egg might be intended to add inexpensive protein to the meal.)

          I don't know where she picked this up, but figure it's either Cantonese or Taiwanese. Anyone else know? How about it, HLing -- is this from Taiwan?

          1. re: Dennison

            All sorts of Chinese people I know do the fried egg with soy sauce over rice thing, whenever they're feeling especially lazy. I loved it as a child. I was born in Shenzhen, but speak Hakka, not Cantonese. It's akin to fried rice with just eggs scrambled mixed in--quite tasty with the proper dose of Maggi seasoning sauce!

            1. re: l'il dragon

              I'm not Chinese, excpet maybe in a former life, but I do it too...Actually, I usually add gochu jang, to do a more Korean version, and hit it with sesame seeds..Kinda halfway to bibimbap.

              1. re: l'il dragon

                I hope this isn't too far off topic, but I would love to know some of your favorite Hakka specialties to order in a Hakka style Chinese restaurant. I went to a Hakka Chinese restaurant recently, but didn't realize in time to order a hakka specialty, and would love to go back and try one. (I remember some items on menu were salt bake chicken and prawns, special stuffed tofu, I think, plus others I can't remember). Any suggestions?

                1. re: Leslie T.

                  I'm not sure what exactly to suggest. I've never gone to a Hakka-style restaurant before. The homecooking I was exposed to while growing up was usually very simple (for instance, my family never made salt baked chicken), and I'm not sure that it was authentic Hakka cuisine, rather than just general Chinese stuff. We did eat a lot of tofu stuffed with minced meat or fish. And I remember steamed eggs with little dried shrimps or a salted duck egg mixed in (like chawanmushi), steamed ribs in black bean sauce, and rice wine chicken. I've read that two well-known dishes are beefball soup and duck stuffed with sticky rice, but I don't think I've ever had them. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

                  1. re: l'il dragon

                    thanks for your reply l'il dragon. Sounds like you had some delicious good home cooking growing up, hakka style or otherwise. In the meantime today I did a chowhound search on 'hakka' and some interesting older threads showed up. One included a recipe by chowhound's Melanie Wong for Salt Baked Shrimp, which she said is prepared totally in a different style than Salt Baked Chicken. Now I must go back to this restaurant I mentioned and try some.

                2. re: l'il dragon

                  For a while there, I was sauteing tofu in butter until brown, pouring soy sauce over it, stirring. As soon as the tofu had absorbed the sauce, I poured over it beaten eggs, and stirred until scrambled.

                  Very satisfying over fresh hot rice on a cold day.

                3. re: Dennison

                  Hi Dennison,

                  I don't know if the egg thing is Taiwanese and or Hakka, although I'm both. (I don't speak Hakka though, just Mandarin and Taiwanese)

                  The trick is to have to rice piping hot. The egg yolk will cook some more as you stir it into the rice. An addition, (or instead of) to the egg would be some lard left over from making pork rinds, or here in the USA, bacon...with some soy sauce..comfort food at its best! As for being lazy, if there are no eggs nor lard I sometimes just add some butter to that piping hot rice, add a small amount of soy sauce. Not bad either.

                  And don't get me started with those salted flat "belt" fish...And how about those dried turnip omelette...

                  1. re: Dennison

                    A japanese friend showed me this dish, which I make all the time now.

                    boil some dashi (or soy sauce and mirin) and water, with some of a chopped onion in it, until the onion is soft. add some beaten egg, and any leftover cooked meat/veggies you want. when the egg is poached, and the sauce is sort of absorbed into it, turn the whole thing over onto some rice.

                    This is as close to heaven as I can get. For a real treat, occasionally I'll add some dumplings into the egg mixture, amazing.


                    1. re: ben f
                      Vital Information

                      This thread brings back memories. We used to live right off of Chicago's "New Chinatown" or Little Saigon. We ate many a breakfast at a little cafe featuring both chinese and vietamese food: various kinds of noodles, pork chops, etc. I almost alway made breakfast of beef stew with egg noodles and rice noodles plush a tall glass of iced coffee, but that's getting way off-subject.

                      My little kids, due to their parents inordinate love of Asian food, grew up eating "eggy-meatball". Hannah, the older daughter would have the wok-fried eggs with soy sauce, Sophia, the younger, would have the thoroughly gross soft meatball with watery tomato sauce. They'd split the excellant baguette that accompanied and maybe a bit of white rice if they were extra hungry (and some iced coffee if they could beg well). How many five year olds would pine once a week for eggy-meatball?


                      1. re: Vital Information
                        Vital Information

                        I just passed my eggy-meatball piece on hot threads and I realized that I said, how many 5 year olds would pine for eggy-meatball. What I should have said was how many jewish kids would pine for eggy-meatball...


                  2. re: jen kalb

                    I don't know of a specific recipe that bathes the eggs in sweetened soy, but I occasionally use the thicker soy sauce (not sure of the American name for it) that also tastes a tad bit sweeter. Usually though, after I'm done frying the egg, I throw in some green onions to sizzle a bit in the residual oil, then turn off the heat and pour in a bit of soy sauce. I IMMEDIATELY take it off the heat and drizzle it around the egg and eat it with rice (most often rice porriage - it's my favorite childhood breakfast). The soy sauce bubbles like crazy even with the heat off and gets super concentrated so you must be quick. I feel it takes the raw edge off the soy sauce, if that makes any sense.

                    BTW I am Taiwanese, if that adds anything to the discussion about the origins of preparation. But I really can't comment any further on that.

                  3. Getting back to your original question re the fishy smell/taste, I've found the best way to get rid of that sort of problem--most prevalent with oily fish like mackerel and salmon--is to preheat the pan for a long time, effectively burning the residue off. I have the problem particularly with a well-seasoned castiron pan, but it burns off that really well because it can take so much heat. Don't know if I would do the same with Calphalon . . .