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Saute fish in a pan?


notaste
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I'm not quite certain why, but when I saute a filet of fish (usually 1/2lbs of salmon)....it never comes out as expected....the skin sticks to the pan and the inside is too raw (I'm afraid of overcooking the outside)...

What am I doing wrong? is the pan not hot enough? did I not add enough butter? should I add oil as well? am I not letting it sit long enough? please enlighten me...thanks.

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There is a pretty good thread here on how to acheive good results on cooking fish.

The general steps for good fish cooking is:

Make sure the skin or flesh is very dry.

Very Hot Pan

Good Oil/Butter to grease pan.

Don't touch fish until it releases from the pan, otherwise it will fall apart.

Turn only once.

Edited by johnder (log)

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Allow your pan to become hot. dry the skin or flesh and dust with wondra flour. add plain oil (canola etc...) to the pan and make sure the oil moves in the pan. add the fish skin side down. when the color of the fish begins to change up the sides, add butter and baste the fish briefly. flip over and finish basting. instert a metal object into the center. remove and if the end is cold the fish is rare and if the object is hot, it's probably going to over cook.

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The pan may be too light to work well at high heat. A cast iron pan will do the trick, well heated over a flame or hot burner, until the oil moves or shimmers, as suggested above.

Spraying the pan with Pam as it heats up, but before oiling, may help in making the flip-over...

I always use a thermometer and a finger press to gague doneness. I like it done to a state of hot flakiness, but not overdone, at 140F.

Edited by jayt90 (log)
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Heat the pan to the correct temperature first. [Medium High]

Add your oil. Grapeseed is very good for fish as stated by

G-Man "It reaches higher temps before smoking"

Salt the skin just before you place it in your pan for a crispy result.

Depending on thickness allow 2mins one side and 1:30 seconds on the other side. Leave the fish for the required time and only turn the fish once. Let sit for 5 mins before serving.

Whalla perfect fish :wink:

Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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To TAUBEARS response i would add......

If you are inclined to spend any $$ in the future towards this endeavor...

Get a high quality teflon pan like the "CHOC" ceramic from france.

Follow taubears instructions.

I use one of those cheap hamburger weights to hold down some fishes so the skin crisps evenly.

As far as turning it once, that only applies to flat fragile fish.

In fact you can crisp all 4 sides of a salmon filet if it is neatly cut.

8 oz piece

2 minutes skin side, 1 minute every other side.

Let it rest skin side up for a few mins, should be nice and moist inside.

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don't put lemon on the fish, you don't need a cast iron pan. you just need a hot pan and a little wondra flour. always use oil first, grapeseed is just as good as canola, but 300 times the price. put the oil in the hot pan, put the fish dusted with flour in away from you so you don't burn yourself. when the fish begins to cook (as you will be able to see from the sides changing colors) put a tablespoon of butter in the pan, lower the heat and baste the fish. the flesh will turn colors as it's cooking. flip over. insert a metal skewer into the direct middle of the fish. if it is warm, it's done.

thats it. if you want to add flavors, do it before you flip the fish over. thats when you'll add lemon juice, capers, parsley, a garlic clove, teriyaki sauce, veal stock, cranberries or whatever you want.

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12 Fluid ounces of Grapeseed oil by Monini $7.95

same of Canola $2.95

Sure you may save $5 but Canola oil is industrial garbage.

There is no such thing as a "canola"

The OP is completely confused right now which goes to show different folks have different methods.

Some things are universally agreed to.

1. Grapeseed oil is better though you can use any good vegetable oil.

2. You dont need any flour wondra or otherwise if you use a teflon pan and dry your fish.

3. Butter burns which was the reason to use grapeseed oil in the first place, why then baste with burnt butter, thats retarded.

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you don't baste with burnt butter, that would be retarded. once you have your nice crust on the fish, you would lower the heat and add butter to the pan. then you'd have a frothy butter which to baste with. this will also assist in releasing the fish from the pan if for some reason it stuck to your pan.

what the wondra does is catch any moisture left on the fish that the paper towel didn't catch, and there is plenty of it. and a non teflon pan is going to heat differently and allow a better crust on the fish.

i've worked in many restaurants, and i've never seen a non stick pan in any kitchen, but i have seen wondra flour and any grade "salad" oil in which to sear any protein...

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Just to add my 2 cents. Very hot pan with the oil just starting to smoke. Dry the fish. Dry the fish again. Dry the fish another time. If you are sure the fish is completely dry on the surface put it in the pan flesh side down for a thick fish like salmon - skin side down will make it hard to evenly brown the flesh side. After a couple of minutes the fish will release and when you flip it onto the skin the fish will contract, flattening out the skin on its own. Either leave the pan on the stove to finish, or toss it in a hot oven/under a broiler. For a whole fish, I've had better luck finishing the fish in the oven. Thinner cuts of fish are less sensitive to which side you start on - skin side down makes it easier to flip without breaking the skin.

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I always start flesh side down whether in a pan or the grill. When it's finished I like to have the flesh side up. For me I get a better looking end product. Hot pan/dry fish is the secret. Butter will add more color than oil but I add it later so it doesn't burn

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you don't baste with burnt butter, that would be retarded.  once you have your nice crust on the fish, you would lower the heat and add butter to the pan.  then you'd have a frothy butter which to baste with.  this will also assist in releasing the fish from the pan if for some reason it stuck to your pan.

what the wondra does is catch any moisture left on the fish that the paper towel didn't catch, and there is plenty of it.  and a non teflon pan is going to heat differently and allow a better crust on the fish.

i've worked in many restaurants, and i've never seen a non stick pan in any kitchen, but i have seen wondra flour and any grade "salad" oil in which to sear any protein...

This is the way to do it.

I have seen countless amounts of non-stick pans in REAL kitchens, especially in Europe.

The weight idea which was mentioned up-post is great and is also used in many REAL restaurants. These weights sometimes look like half-dumbells but anything clean and heavy will work.

Make sure there is butter in the pan and make sure you season the fish well. Bland fish SUCKS! That's the only retarded thing possible with cooked fish.

Good Luck

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To me the worst part of doing a fish like salmon in a very hot pan is that the smell can linger for days (more so with salmon IMHO that almost any other fish.)

As an interesting twist if the filets have the skin on, you can cook them in a cast iron pan on top of the stove on a bed of kosher salt with the skin side down. Just discard the skin before serving.

You can also layer both side of a skinless filet with thinly sliced potatoes, which cuts down on the salmon smell somewhat (but not entirely). Then just use the high-temperature method others have mention. I personally prefer to use copper or cast iron, but a GOOD non-stick pan is doable (i.e. the bonded all-clad kind).

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I like Shalmanese's technique of drawing a knife across the skin to get out the last bit of moisture. A minute dusting of Wondra just prior to taking the fish to the pan is okay, but not always necessary. I'm more likely to do it with whole fish, which is harder to get completely dry using the knife trick compared to a fillet because it is not flat.

I'll usually go with high heat and very little grapeseed oil in a nonstick skillet. I've done it over extra-high heat using stainless lined heavy copper as well, but you have to be much more careful about crowding the pan and you have to use more fat. Cast iron... if I'm going for crispy skin, I don't like to use a cast iron skillet because the tall straight sides don't allow the steam to escape with the same efficiency as the short sloped sides of a frypan. It also makes it much more difficult to get a spatula in there to turn the fish.

My usual technique for something like a crispy skin salmon fillet is skin side down until it's cooked 80% of the way through. Then a gentle flip over, turn the heat off and plate it skin side up.

I should probably point out, for the sake of clarity, that we are not talking about sautéed fish. One does not usually sauté fish. Sautéing is when you put chunks of food in a hot sauté pan and then shake the pan back and forth to tumble the chunks of food around and brown them on all sides. If you do this with fish, it will fall apart. We're talking about frying here.

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Not True.

The term "SAUTE" can be used to describe fish being cooked at high heat.

The "shaking" has nothing to do with sauteeing other than being a functional way to move the meat around. In most cases with meat. you need to use long tongs to turn the meat so you can brown it evenly.

FRYING : can be deep or shallow.

Even shallow frying requires 5 to 10 times more oil than sauteeing.

A lot of the high end restaurants in Europe and America do use teflon pans for fragile fish.

We arent talking about Dupont pans from bed bath and Beyond, this is what good restaurants use..

http://www.world-cuisine.com/alias.cfm/Choc_Ceramic/

I believe the knife thing was a Thomas Keller technique.

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
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12 Fluid ounces of Grapeseed oil by Monini  $7.95

same of Canola $2.95

Sure you maTy save $5 but Canola oil is industrial garbage.

There is no such thing as a "canola"

This oil, Canola, is no more industrial garbage than olive oil, which has a periodic habit of adulteration.

In fact there is such a thing as "canola". It is a light, tasteless and flavourless oil made from rapeseed with a favourable mix of nutritional properties. These are usually listed on the label.

The name "Canola" was developed by the rapeseed oil industry in western Canada when it was found to be more marketable than the name rapeseed.

In my nearest market, $2.95 will get 3 litres of Canola.

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I meant 1qt 2ozs not 12oz.

Still that is I L for grapeseed as opposed to 3 for canola at the same cost.

In the bigger picture, that's still plenty of Oil.

If I am shelling out upwards of $15 per pound for premium seafood, I will take my chances with grapeseed any day.

Still has the highest smoke point.

Between the Keller nut oils and Manni olive oils, trust me its a bargain

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Not True.

The term "SAUTE" can be used to describe fish being cooked at high heat.

The "shaking" has nothing to do with sauteeing other than being a functional way to move the meat around. In most cases with meat. you need to use long tongs to turn the meat so you can brown it evenly.

FRYING : can be deep or shallow.

Even shallow frying requires  5 to 10 times more oil than sauteeing.

Um, sorry... but you are incorrect on this. "Sauté" does not mean "cooked at high heat" or "cooked in a limited amount of fat" -- although both of these things are likely to be true of sautéing. The most important factor you have missed, however, is that sauté necessarily implies motion. In fact, it necessarily implies tumbling motion. I will explain:

The word sauté is the past tense form (passé composé) of the French verb sauter. Sauter means "to jump." Sauté, then, means "jumped." Thus, a literal translation of poisson sauté would be "jumped fish." Jumped where, you ask? Jumped around in the pan. Similarly, the French compound form for the Frenglish verb "to sauté" is faire sauter or, "to make jump." Make it jump where? Jump around in the pan. This is mirrored in other romance languages such as Italian, where the term for sauteed bitter greens would be something like rape saltate in padella. The "saltate in padella part means "jumped (around) in a pan." To sum up: sauté equals jump. If you don't shake the pan and jump the food around, it ain't sautéing.

Frying, on the other hand, simply means to cook something in a pan using some fat and without moving it around very much. It's not a question of the amount of fat. You can fry an egg in a thin film of fat, or you can fry an egg in an centimeter of fat. They're both fried. According to your usage, an egg cooked in a hot pan using a thin film of fat would be called a "sautéed egg." Actually, use of the word "fry" to describe submerging piece of food in hot fat is not particularly useful. "Deep fried" food is really "boiled in oil" and not fried at all. I suppose we call it "fried" because the exterior comes out crisp. But, I digress...

People like to say things like "sautéed fish" for several reasons, among which are the perception that "sauté" sounds "fancy" and "culinary," a desire to avoid the negative connotations that come with the perception that frying required a lot of fat, and of course a basic misunderstanding of the word "sauté."

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Ok, lets recap:

1. Canola oil is fine and inexpensive.

2. Nonstick pan makes things easier, but cooks the meat a little differently than stainless. Personallyl, I like nonstick, but have concerns about the health effects.

3. Dry the skin, a knife can be used to "squeegee" moisture out of the skin. I like this technique and use it. Salting the skin 30 minutes before cooking helps draw out moisture. Scoring the skin looks good, helps the fish keep its shape, and, I should add, helps the fat render out of the skin.

4. Once the skin side is done, lower the heat (so butter doesn't burn), wait a couple of seconds, add a pat of high quality butter and aromatics (e.g. garlic, thyme, parsley, capers, chocolate, a wedding cake, lug nuts, whole white truffles, etc), baste, flip the fish. For thinner fish, you're pretty much done at this point. Thicket cuts of 3/4" and above should probably finish cooking in the oven.

5. Rest the fish under foil for a few minutes.

Any comments?

P.S. Yes, sautee does imply moving, so we're not doing that, but I don't think we're actually frying here. I'd classify the techniques here as primarily "pan roasting."

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Yes I am aware of the historical contextual French but cooking evolves and certain terms referring to cooking methods have grey areas between them.

If anything, this isnt as bad as the misuse of classic preparations.

What are your thoughts on the following ?

Hopefully you get a good laugh from it at least..

1.Barley Risotto (no rice)

2.Tomato Confit (no native fat)

3.Eggplant Caviar (no fish eggs)

4.Squash Bisque (no shellfish)

5.Cilantro Pesto (no basil)

6.leek fondue (no cheese)

New thread on bastardisation ?

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Yes I am aware of the historical contextual French but cooking evolves and certain terms referring to cooking methods have grey areas between them.

If anything, this isnt as bad as the misuse of classic preparations.

What are your thoughts on the following ?

Hopefully you get a good laugh from it at least..

1.Barley Risotto (no rice)

2.Tomato Confit (no native fat)

3.Eggplant Caviar (no fish eggs)

4.Squash Bisque (no shellfish)

5.Cilantro Pesto (no basil)

6.leek fondue (no cheese)

New thread on bastardisation ?

In most of those descriptions, the qualifier seeks to add some degree of clarity to the method of preparation. If I see barley risotto, I can guess that it's probably cooked with ladles of hot stock, constantly stirring. Other times, it's just simply pretension.

However, fish saute is not only wholly inaccurate, it also has a completely accurate alternative. I don't see any reason to use it.

PS: I am a guy.

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