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Jan 9, 2013 09:36 AM

Will a de Buyer carbon plus pan absorb odors?

I pan fried salmon (with skin) last night and loved the result. My stainless fry pan, unfortunately, did not. It took lots of BKF and elbow grease to de-stain the pan. I own a de Buyer carbon plus fry pan that I use for stir frying. If I pan fry salmon in this pan, will the salmon odor linger? I don't want subsequent dishes to smell like salmon. Thanks!

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  1. I wouldn't expect it to be any better. Probably worse, because SS should be as easy to clean as anything. I've never noticed cooking fish to leave residual odors which were a problem after ordinary cleaning, but if you have such a problem, I recommend using whatever pan gives the best cooking result for fish, and using that pan only for fish.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Hi GH1618,

      Thanks for responding. The sides of the stainless steel pan stained pretty bad from the hot oil splatter. It took too much to clean it. I'm not as picky with my carbon steel or cast iron pans. If something on them bothers me, I just throw them on the stovetop and let the offending issue burn itself off. I know that if I were to make this fish in the cast iron pan, there would most definitely be residual odor, even after washing the pan (and, yes, I do use soap.) I don't know about the carbon steel pan though and was curious to know if those pans tend to absorb fishy odors.

      1. re: sherrib

        Hi, Sherri:

        IMO, it's not the pans that absorb odors, it's the built-up seasoning. So I think a seasoned carbon steel pan would "fish up" just like a seasoned CI pan.

        I think you have two issues going: the smell and the staining. People tend not to tolerate grodier SS pans because they have been trained to expect no stains and a bright, shiny appearance. Whereas with carbon and bare CI pans, a little grodiness is encouraged.

        I agree with GH that perhaps you should consider a dedicated fish pan if using carbon or CI so you don't have to strip and reseason after cooking fish.


    2. <If I pan fry salmon in this pan, will the salmon odor linger?>

      The seasoning surface of the carbon steel cookware will absorb the odor longer. There are some potential ways around this, but if you can get an extra pan as GH1618 said, then it will be easier.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I agree that it is the seasoning that will absorb the odors, and you don't want to strip down a seasoned pan to bare metal every time you cook fish.

        It seems to me that the cooking surface most resistant to retaining odors is PTFE (Teflon). Would you agree?

        1. re: GH1618

          <you don't want to strip down a seasoned pan to bare metal every time you cook fish.>

          Definitely not.

          <It seems to me that the cooking surface most resistant to retaining odors is PTFE (Teflon). Would you agree?>

          Yeah, I agree with this.

          1. re: GH1618

            Hi, GH:

            IMO, the cooking surfaces least likely to retain odors would be enamel or glass.


        2. Thanks everyone for your responses! Now, here's part two of my dilemma. I already have a fish only pan. It's this one:

          I use it for blackening fish (tilapia, grouper, etc.) which are all much thinner than a typical piece of salmon. I'm concerned about using salmon on this pan because salmon is a fatty fish and will give off way more oil than the other fish I cook in here. There will be lots of splatter and because of the extremely low sides of the pan, fish oil will be flying all over my stovetop. I tried putting my splatter screen over the pan, but it doesn't cover the entire pan and still, the thickness of the salmon won't allow it to rest on the pan's edge. The splatter screen will basically sit on top of the piece of salmon being cooked. So...short of purchasing a new pan (which I, of course, don't mind doing) what can I do?

          6 Replies
          1. re: sherrib

            Oh nice. I like Pro-Logic.

            <There will be lots of splatter and because of the extremely low sides of the pan, fish oil will be flying all over my stovetop>

            That will probably happen, but it depends on your cooking temperature too. The higher the temperature you use, the more splattering. I get splattering even when I have a high side pan.

            <short of purchasing a new pan>

            I guess you can get a cover -- if you want a cover that is.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              The cooking temperature will be very high. I liked the texture of the salmon last night and the temperature was definitely very high (which is why the stainless steel pan was so brutally stained.)
              My splatter screen didn't protect the stovetop fully, but I am willing to live with that amount of mess. In the square pan with low sides, however, I will definitely see much more of a mess.
              What kind of cover could I get for this pan? Even if I get a square splatter screen, it will sit on top of the salmon instead of the ledge of the pan and won't help much. I need a square domed splatter screen. Wish me luck with that one!

              1. re: sherrib

                <What kind of cover could I get for this pan?>

                Yeah, I guess there is no perfect solution, because the oil collected on the interior of a the over will drip down, and some will drip to your stovetop. Still, it is probably less messy.

                You may able to use one of the dome lids. Yeah, they will be round.


                So maybe getting a new pan is still the easiest route.

                1. re: sherrib

                  Hi, Sherri:

                  If you want to keep your pan, this should work for $8:

                  If you already have a flat screen, personally, I'd put the $8 toward getting an oval skillet.


                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Hi Kaleo,

                    Thank you!! That domed screen looks like it would do the job perfectly.

                    $8 toward an oval skillet. What material?

                    1. re: sherrib

                      Hi, Sherri:

                      You're welcome. If you look long enough, you might find a square one.

                      Since I know you like to blast/blacken your fish, probably CI.


            2. Update:

              I used my square cast iron pan with disastrous results. The low sides caused a horrible fish oil mess all over my cooktop. I tried to contain it using my round splatter screen and all that did was cause lingering fish odor on the splatter screen (the splatter screen was resting on the fish itself instead of the sides of the pan.) Not wanting to buy a chunky splatter screen just to have it smell like fish, I went another route. I remembered that I owned a smaller de Buyer carbon steel fry pan that I had barely used (too much cookware anyone?) I had bought it on clearance and had used it a couple of times but always preferred the larger one so I didn't use it much. The first few times I used it for salmon, the fish stuck. I did, at some point, almost give up on it. But that's exactly when it started to change over. Now, it has become MUCH more non-stick and I've been getting beautiful results with it (no more sticking!) I now own two dedicated fish pans. Oh well.