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Nov 4, 2013 06:32 PM

Sautéed fish became blackened fish... Help needed!

So I want to start eating more fish. I found a basic fish taco recipe here on chow and had at it.

I used a non stick Calphalon fry pan as I don't trust my skills with fish on SS :)

Anywho medium high until pan is hot. Added a 1/2 tbsp of oil and in goes the marinated fish. 3 minutes and LOTS of splatter I flip it to find the fish is basically burnt. 2 more minutes and other side is burnt. Fish tasted ok but NOT golden brown and delicious.

Where did I go wrong?

Also is there a way to not make a friggin oil mess every time I sauté something?

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  1. Pat the fish dry to remove marinade liquid.

    Get a splatter screen for your sautee pan.

    Don't cook fish according to a timer. Cook it until it's done. Your medium-high is not the same temp as the recipe writer's medium-high, and you are not using the same pan as they are. Declare this a trial run, and learn. Next time, heat not so high, and maybe less splatter from liquid meeting hot oil?

    1. If it burned like that your heat is too high

      1. Yea I didn't pat it dry to remove the marinating liquid, I figured that is something I need. The thought did cross my mind :)

        I used my splatter screen but man that thing sucks, doesn't really do anything. Might have to try a different one. I remember getting that one at Wal Mart in a pinch a year ago or so.

        Hamster, was the heat too high or I let it pre heat too long? I can never know how long to pre heat these pans! It was the calphalon non stick contemporary 10" fry pan and I preheated on medium high (num 7 on my dial) and it's a ceramic glass top if that helps at all....

        4 Replies
        1. re: Kleraudio

          Be careful preheating nonstick pans; they give off stuff you don't want to breathe if you get them too hot. I go ahead and add the fat to the cold pan when using nonstick, and get the fat just hot enough to sizzle a bit when the food goes in. You can guess, or dip in a moist wooden chopstick to check. And I never take them past medium on an electric range; don't know what that translates to on ceramic.

          For non-nonstick pans, I preheat dry until a drop of water disappears immediately, then add the fat, then wait a little before adding whatever I'm searing.

          1. re: Scrofula

            Scrofula, that helps a lot. I would have used the SS but I don't trust it with flaky white fish..... yet :)

            So for a non non-stick pan, do you go past medium heat on an electric range? I'm making red curry chicken tomorrow with my brand new SS saute pan and I don't want to mess it up. It's one of my go to cold weather dishes that I used to make in my non stick saute.

            1. re: Kleraudio

              Yeah, stainless steel pans are safe to heat up. I still don't use maximum heat, but that's more for the food's sake than the pan's. (Don't want it to smoke or burn.) But medium-high should be just fine.

        2. When I saute fish, I season and oil the fish and not the pan (I also use a non-stick pan). Works really well: no sticking, minimal use of oil, but even so there is plenty of spitting and collateral mess around the pan on the stove and counter.

          Medium-high may be too high. I preheat my nonstick pan at just above medium heat for about two or three minutes before adding the fish. Which I mostly cook for two or three minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Snapper, mahi and the like are usually cut to one-inch thickness, so two minutes is the max for these. Haddock loins tend to be thicker, so up to three minutes may be needed.

          While a spatter screen is slightly helpful at keeping most spatter in the skillet, I find using it almost as messy as not using it, and cleaning the screen is more trouble than cleaning the counter and stove, which has to be done anyway, regardless of whether a spatter screen is used or not.

          1. I don't marinate fish too often preferring dry seasonings but when I've used a wet marinade I dry it off as best I can before it hits the pan

            I prefer a hotter pan at the onset med/high and want to here some sizzle when it hits the pan then turn down to med. I cook 2/3 on first side and finnish off on the other to get a good crust

            Because I dislike wet fish hitting the pan I once flamed the fish at the end of cooking with tequila for fish tacos to impart that flavor