cooking fish: pan seared
okay, im a noob pretty much when it comes to cooking. Just started getting into it so learning a lot of things little by little.
so my question has to do with cooking fish on a pan
lets just say salmon for now:
1. use stainless or non stick pans?
2. I see chefs when they cook fish ....spoon the liquid in the pan on top of the fish over and over again while cooking..kinda holding the pan at an angle and spooning the liquids over the fish. what is this liquid they use? is it just butter?
I follow Rick Moonen's (cookbook author: Fish Without A Doubt) method to pan fry sish. Simple, fast and virtually foolproof: I use a stainless steel skillet.
Each piece of fish is seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper and the skin side is lightly dusted with flour.
Heat a skillet over high heat, add olive oil, add the fish with floured side down, reduce heat to medium, press down on fish with a spatula to hear the sizzle which tells you that a crust is being formed.
Then add a Tablespoon of butter to the pan.
When the butter melts, baste the fish and cook for 3 minutes.
When the fish is almost cooked through turn over and turn off the heat. The fish sits for about 30 seconds then is transfered to a serving platter.
You could use any type of metal fry pan, but for a beginner I would recommend you use non-stick if you do not have any aversions to using them , simply for the reason it is easier to flip the fish without damaging the fillets. As for basting & liquid, you could use any type of oil, a mixture of oil and butter....or poaching liquids when not pan frying.
Normally, you wouldplace the presentation side of the fish in the hot pan first., but there has been a recent trend to present fish with skin on and the presentation side. As such, this would not be true, as the fish skin is left on the heat longer so it could crips and this is done after flipping.
Non-stick or SS is a matter of personal preference. If I'm cooking a thick filet, I might opt for SS or cast iron so I can finish off in the oven.
As to how to do it? Lightly coat the pan with some EVOO (some people prefer butter but I find that butter intrudes on the sweetness of the fish, so it's personal), make sure the pan is hot, place the fish skin-side down, and don't touch it. When it is done, it will release easily from the pan by itself with a gentle nudge with your spatula. If the filet is skinless, same technique. Place it on the pan and resist the urge to move the fish, b/c if you do so before its time (i.e. before it's formed a nice crust) it'll break apart on you.
As for chef spooning the "liquid" on the fish, it's just a way to baste the fish and infuse the fish with flavor, etc. Optional, and depending on the type of fish, totally unnecessary. Most line-chefs call this "speed basting".
The advantage of speed-basting is that you can cook a fish skin side down, then baste the top with the liquid or pan drippings and maintain a nice rare center but still impart enough savory flavors on the fish without overcooking.
Hope that helps.