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Mar 5, 2010 09:13 AM

Tilapia filet in hot SS frying pan = possible?

I have a very high quality Demeyere stainless ply frying pan which is clean and new. I heated it up on high, with some vegetable oil brushed on and placed a few tilapia filets on the pan. The idea was to brown the filets. Instead, when I flipped them after a few minutes, the browned part stuck to the pan like glue and the rest of the flesh tore off.

I know I'm not using a non-stick pan and all, but I thought with oil and proper heat, food should not stick to a good pan. Or do I just need to use non stick for fish filets, period?

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  1. Better to heat it up slowly to high, without the oil first. Oil heated in a cold pan sometimes actually create a sticky mess. In fact, a good well heated Stainless Steel without oil will not stick, just like a well seasoned cast iron.

    3 Replies
    1. re: HLing

      I did actually do that, the oil was shimmering and very liquidy when I added the fish. The pan was plenty hot. I didn't move the fish around.... was the pan just not hot enough?

      1. re: tzakiel

        Not having been there it's hard to say whether the pan was hot enough before you added the oil. Usually, if the pan was hot enough, the oil shimmers the moment it touches the pan, kind of like hitting the ground running, instead of taking a few seconds to get to that state.

        I don't rely on the oil to help create non-stick-ness. It's role for me is to be the medium for spreading the aroma of the herbs and spices into the item being cooked, be it fish or veggies or tofu. Often I use the oil in conjunction with flour to do something similar to roux-frying, which uses much less oil.

        Was the fish patted dry?

      2. re: HLing

        Yes: hot pan, brush or pour on oil, let it get hot too and drop in the fish. If it does stick a bit it's telling you not to turn it yet. When you can slide the spatula under it, it's ready to turn over.

        I have only one nonstick pan, and the only reasons I have and use it are (1) it's big and has a lid and a good shape, and (2) it was a gift.

      3. Use more oil next time...and LEAVE THEM ALONE!!! Let the pan and the fish "embrace"....when they are through they will release...Repeat on side two.


        1. what was the temperature of the fillets when you put them in the pan? did you manage to pat them dry? they're more likely to stick if they're cold and moist.

          1 Reply
          1. re: epabella

            They were cool, and dry. I religiously dry off meat and fish before searing.

            I'll have to try it again sometime.. I probably just didn't let them release and flipped too early.