Cast Iron vs. Stainless in browning fish?

bonjoFebruary 22, 2008

Last night I had 1 1/2 pounds of beautiful wild caught cod that I was going to cook for dinner. It called for salt and pepper, lemon, parsley, capers, garlic, and fresh home brined green olives sliced, white wine, Pretty simple. It called for browning quickly in a small amount of oil and

butter. Hubby and I differ on what pan is best for what, so it became a toss up over what I wanted to use (cast Iron) and what he thought (Stainless Steel) He also wanted to leave butter out and use only olive oil. We don't do non stick. So I gave the stainless steel a go. The fish turned into oily fish paste as the fish stuck to the bottom of the pan,hubby then added more oil. It just got worse when he added the rest of the ingredients. Finally he drowned it all in white wine. By now I'm drinking the wine and have given up on saving this dish. He said it wouldn't matter with such a delicate fish, it would fall apart in any pan. We hardly ever disagree on anything by the way! I did say that when I pay top dollar for high quality food items I really do not want to be eating hash. Any thoughts on this out there?

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I'm not sure what difference the pan would make, but in a cooking class, I was taught to put a light coating of oil (we used canola) on the fish before putting it in a hot pan (heavy stainless) that had been ever-so-lightly wiped with oil. This was a skinned piece of salmon & I don't know if your fish had the skin on, or if it would make a difference. Another trick was to not turn it until the edges looked like they were burnt - then it would release from the pan without becoming a mess.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 12:22AM
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Thanks for the post. Next day my hby went out and bought us a lodge brand beautiful cobalt blue enamel cast iron frying pan, which I am going to make veal shanks in tonight. Makes sense that you need to lightly oil the fish. Mine was just wet.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 11:48AM
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In Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain said basically that there are a few applications where nonstick is best and one of them is for a delicate fish fillet. I absolutely agree if the pan is heavy. If you don't want to use nonstick then first bring the fish to room temperature, then pre-heat a heavy pan until it's hot, then add the oil and pre-heat it. Coating the fish with oil can't hurt but the main points are bringing the fish to room temperature and pre-heating both the pan and then the oil. If the pan is really clean the fish won't stick. If it does stick you will have to wait until it releases and by that time the fish may be overcooked.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:42PM
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Well I just did a bunch of Tilapia tonight in a cast iron frying pan. Cooked beautifully, *no sticking*. I used to have a heavy disc-bottomed stainless pain, and it was a big improvement over my old aluminum junk, but it wasn't as good as this old cast iron pan that I paid $15 for on eBay.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 7:09PM
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