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How to get fish NOT to stick?

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Hi all,

After years of thinking non-stick were the only types of pans to use, I invested in some stainless steel ones. So far they are working out great....EXCEPT I can't get fish not to stick when I am searing it. I've tried to do everything suggested. I let the fish come to room temp before putting it in, I get the pan and oil hot enough, I wait for a little brown to appear, but nothing works.

So far I've only made fish for myself, so it's okay, although I end up losing into the stuck part any salt and pepper that I sprinkle the fish with. But at some point I would like to have people over and would be embarrassed at the mangled piece I would have to serve because much of it got left stuck to the pan.

Thoughts??

Thanks.
-M

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  1. Keep a non-stick skillet around for eggs and fish.

    1. Yup, I would just go with the non-stick pan when making fish. I can't think of a single way to guarantee the fish won't stick in the regular pan.

      1. For an oily fish like salmon, I use an old Griswold cast iron skillet, s&p the fish and cook it with no oil if i'm gonna be serving it simply w/a sauce. I've never had trouble with it sticking at all, it releases when seared.

        1. Cast iron in my experience works much better. Try that instead. Plus I gotta say, may it is psychological, but my proteins just taste better when I use cast iron ;-) Go antique shopping, you can find great bargains of great quality stuff.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yomyb

            Awesome. Thanks for all the fast responses. I thought non-stick was just for eggs, but I guess not.
            Cast-iron is its own story. I have a skillet, but no matter how much I cook in it (especially higher fat) things, things still stick. I'll keep trying though.

            Thanks again!

            1. re: mhdousa

              Many years ago, my mom was in the hospital and I was the designated cook. I tried browning meatballs in her well-seasoned cast iron skillet, and they stuck horridly. I've looked askance at cast iron ever since. It does some things very well, but other things not at all well, fish and eggs among them.

          2. Here's a video by Mark Bittman where he starts a sturdy monkfish filet in a stainless saute pan and finishes it in the oven. A simple way to cook fish without sticking. He does not flip it and it has time to fully brown. http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story...

            I've had success with the 70-30 rule. Cook the fish till it's about 70% done and then turn it to finish 30% on the other side.

            1. I'd go along with keeping the non-stick for fish and eggs (I mostly use the 2 I have for eggs), but otherwise, the short answer is: keep the heat high enough and use enough fat. Oh, and don't try to flip or move it until it starts to "give" a little with just a slight nudge. (Or if you're comfortable with the idea, give the pan a sharp but not hard jerk and if it's ready, it'll move.) Basically, you need to let the surface fully sear/cook/congeal.