4 Steps to Keeping Fish from Sticking

I love fish. And since that’s mainly what I eat these days (gave up meat and poultry about 2 years ago), I’ve had to be quite creative in not only the types of fishes I eat, but also in the ways I cook fish. Since I am an aspiring healthy eater, I do my best (most times) to stay from fried foods. But how do you get that crisp tasty flavor that only fat can provide without frying the fish in a pot of oil? That’s where pan searing comes in. Pan searing is that method of creating a very nice crisp coating on meat or seafood to lock in the juices, all while maintaining that juicy center. The meat or fish is placed in a hot pan that is lightly coated with oil or cooking spray. However, unlike steaks and chicken, fish presents a major hurdle in the pan searing process for most of us. It tends to stick! So how do we prevent this stickiness that often leaves our fish all unraveled and disheveled in the pan?

4 Steps to Ensure Your Fish Does Not Stick

Step 1. It is important that your heat is high. Fish is mainly protein, and protein is well, glue. And glue sticks, especially as it unravels at low temperatures. This is why it is important that your heat is high. If your heat is high, the piece of fish, will be set, and will not break down chemically. Thus, keep the heat high.

Step 2. Once you have your high heat, you need to ensure your pan is hot and stays hot. The way to ensure that the pan is hot is either a) the pan with the oil has smoke coming from it, or if you drop a small drop of water in the heated pot, it evaporates within a second. I recommend the smoke technique, it is safer.

Not only must the pan be hot before you place the fish in it, it must also be hot while the fish is in it too, which is why it’s best to not pan sear cold fish. Bring the fish to room temperature first. Cold pieces of meat with cool your pan down and giving those proteins more time to unravel. So ensure that the fish is not

Step 3. Ensure the fish is dry. This is important because pan searing requires some kind of fat. Not much, just enough to coat the bottom of what ever pan you are using. And we all know that oil and water does not mix. So for your safety, pat dry the fish. Also, any liquid would cool down the pan, and as we stated earlier, the pan must stay hot.

Step 4. Timing is key in maintaining your fish. We tend to like to move around meat as soon as we place it in the pot. In the pan searing process, place it down, and forget it at least for about 3 to 5 minutes anyways. I like to place the skin side down first. This is because the skin side is usually the presentation side, and your heat is the hottest earlier on. So I like to get that nice crisp look on the side that will be plated up first. Once the fish has cooked, it should move quite easily. If it is resisting, it is not ready! Leave it alone. With a large spatula, try to move it, once it moves freely, flip, and leave it alone again until it is ready. If it is a thick piece of fish, place it in a baking pan and bake in the oven so the middle can cook.

Nadege Fleurimond is the owner & business manager of Fleurimond Catering, Inc., an off-premise catering firm serving the NY/NJ/CT/MA areas. She is also the author of a Taste of Life: A Culinary Memoir, a humorous and heart warming compilation of recipes and funny anecdotes. (http://www.nadegefleurimond.com)
Please submit thoughts and questions pertaining to the column via email at nadege1981@gmail.com.

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