Do you have a cast-iron skillet and want to know how to cook fish in it? Fish is an excellent source of protein, but it does tend to stick to the pan or skillet.
Several things you need to know of how to cook fish in cast iron without sticking:
- Well-seasoned cast iron
- Preheat the skillet
- Hot oil
- Dry fish
- Turn the fish when ready.
Why and how can we do that? In this article, we will discuss some detail and helpful tips on cooking fish without sticking!
About Cast Iron
What is cast iron?
Cast iron is made from metals and is available in different shapes such as skillets, grills, or even cookware. You want to make sure that you are purchasing high-quality cast irons because they will last for years.
The best thing about cooking with cast iron is its ability to distribute heat evenly throughout the cookware. It means that your food will cook evenly and thoroughly.
Reasons to use cast iron for baking
Baking and cooking in cast iron have a variety of advantages. The meals are crispier, and the batter is thoroughly cooked. The following are all the reasons why baking in cast iron is better than other materials.
You may cook with cast iron on the stovetop or straight in the oven. You don’t need to have a separate saucepan for cooking ingredients before folding them into the batter. A cast-iron skillet can do all of it.
Holds heat longer
Cast iron is a poor heat conductor. Once a cast iron pan is hot enough, it will retain the heat for an extended time.
Even heat ensures that your cake is uniformly baked and golden throughout. As a result, you won’t have to worry about temperatures fluctuation damaging your crust or creating burn spots.
A cast-iron skillet delivers superior control than standard baking pans. So if your cornbread never develops a crunchy outer crust, it’s probably because the pan isn’t heating evenly.
You can also preheat the pan in the oven before adding the batter with cast iron. It assures that your pan is already very hot, which will help to crisp up your crust as you desire.
A cast-iron skillet can virtually do it all. In addition, you may downsize your kitchen pots and pans to clear up the clutter if you learn to utilize one.
Cast iron baking is also reminiscent of the past. Cast iron cookware is virtually unbreakable and recovered from house fires, making it a time-honored treasure.
What to avoid when cooking with cast iron?
The five most common kitchen mistakes to avoid when using cast iron.
Avoid cooking acidic foods in cast-iron pans
The first reason to avoid cooking acidic sauces in cast-iron pans is that the acid loosens small traces of molecules from the metal, allowing them to leach into your meals and impart a metallic flavor. While these metals are entirely safe to eat, they may leave an unpleasant taste.
The second reason is that acid may cause the seasoning on a cast-iron pan to deteriorate. The protective layer of polymerized fat that forms on a cast-iron pan when heated is naturally non-stick.
Don’t cook delicate fish in cast iron
A cast-iron skillet can prove even heat during cooking, allowing you to get that perfect browned crust on a steak. But, on the other hand, this same quality poses a problem when it comes to more delicate meats that won’t withstand high temperatures.
When cooking flaky white fish like flounder or tilapia in cast iron, they’re at risk of crumbling and not flipping correctly. Even with heartier fish like salmon, the skin is likely to stick to the cast-iron surface, making flipping difficult.
Avoid sticky foods before your skillet is well-seasoned
A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is as non-stick as any other pan that has been coated with a chemical-based non-stick coating. And cast iron cookware is far more long-lasting than non-stick pans.n
Avoid leaving and storing food in your cast-iron pan
With a cast-iron skillet, you should permanently remove food from the pan and store leftovers in different dishes.
As a general rule, you want to keep your cast-iron pan very dry to preserve its seasoning and prevent rust. The acids in food left in the pan will break down the seasoning. And, storing food in the pan for prolonged periods makes it more likely to impart metallic flavor.
What should you do if your cast iron has sticking residue?
It is important. Because uncleaned sticking residue will make your next dish stick to your pan.
What causes it?
Food occasionally sticks to your cast iron cookware. It can occur for a variety of reasons, such as:
- inadequate fat or oil while cooking
- a not yet well-seasoned pan
- new cookware that hasn’t acquired additional layers of seasoning.
What should you do?
- Prior to cooking, add about a teaspoon of oil to your skillet and heat it gradually on the stovetop or in the oven to help reduce sticking.
- After cooking, allow the cookware to cool.
- Use a pan scraper to remove stuck-on food, scrub with a nylon brush or nonscratch pad, hand dry, and add a generous layer of oil.
- Rub the oil onto the pan evenly.
How to Prevent Fish From Sticking to a Pan?
Why do fish tend to stick to the pan?
The first thing to understand about fish is that it is very high in protein while also being relatively low in fat.
Protein sticks, for example. It’s what glue is made of. Proteins will stick firmly when allowed to cool and denature gradually.
How to prevent the fish from sticking?
You must ensure that proteins cook rapidly since proteins adhere when they unwind slowly. Therefore, the temperature must be high enough to begin setting the proteins as soon as possible.
Watch the temperature
The pan must be as hot as that used to cook meat or chicken before adding fish. The surface of your pan will not brown until approximately 320°F.
Since the pan’s temperature will drop when you add the fish, be sure that the fish isn’t too cold. At least 15 to 30 minutes before cooking, remove your fish from the refrigerator.
To know whether your pan is hot enough for cooking, preheat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. If you add a few drops of water and they immediately boil violently and evaporate after only a couple of seconds, then the pan is hot enough.
Dry fish is important
If your recipe directs you to rinse the fish before cooking, be sure to dry it off. Butter, oil, or some other combination of fat and water won’t mix. As a result, make sure you get as much moisture off the fish’s surface as possible.
Fish skin is very delicate, and you should always cook the fish facing the pan to prevent it from sticking.
Turn your fish when it’s ready
The only way you will know when it is time to turn it is when the protein naturally releases from the pan. When a protein has browned nicely, it will release from the pan with minimal sticking, if any at all.
Place the fish skin-side (or prettiest side) first in the pan and do not move it until it lets you. Then, adjust the heat to hear a good sizzle but not any very loud sputtering and popping, and allow the fish to cook and develop a nice sear.
After the first three minutes or so, try and lift up the fish with a wide fish spatula. If it releases easily, gently turn the fish. If not, give it about another 30 seconds and try again. Please don’t force it, though. It would be best if you didn’t have to scrape with the spatula.
Once the fish releases, turn the fish and let it cook until it is firm and opaque but not yet flaking. If you let it flake in the pan, you will end up overcooking your fish due to carryover cooking.
Some people will dust a piece of fish with a light coating of seasoned flour to help keep it from sticking.
How to Cook Fish in Cast Iron without Sticking?
- Make sure that your cast iron is well-seasoned.
- Make sure that your cast iron is clean from any sticking residue
- Fish prone to sticking. Be sure to put enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat the skillet. Make sure the skillet is hot enough before cooking.
- Make sure the oil is hot enough.
- Dry the fish before cooking.
- Turn the fish only when it has developed a nice sear and release easily.
- When the fish is done, remove it immediately from the skillet.
Cooking Salmon in a Cast Iron Skillet
Let’s try cooking salmon in cast iron with this simple and easy recipe.
- Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, with skin
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
- Kosher salt
- Lemon wedges, for serving
How do I cook salmon on the stovetop?
- Dry the fish. Fish skin adheres firmly to cookware, especially when wet. When you take your salmon out of the fridge, use paper towels to blot away any extra moisture. Repeat just before seasoning and heating the fish in the pan.
- High, then low. Preheat the pan for a few seconds before adding the oil, then add the oil and heat until it shimmers like a mirage. Then, as soon as you put the fish in the pan, reduce the temperature to low. The moderate heat will cook both sides of the fish more evenly while allowing enough time for the skin to brown and crisp.
- Press the flesh. When a fish’s skin comes into contact with a hot pan, it shrinks and curls in on itself. To make it stay flat, for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, press down on the fish with a flexible fish spatula while it cooks.
- Finish Up. Once your fish is cooked through, transfer it from the cast iron to a plate.
Cooking salmon in the oven
Instead of cooking salmon fillets on the stovetop, you can also begin the process at the stove and finish it in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Follow our recipe through Step 2
- Then transfer the skillet to the oven until the fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
You can also broil the salmon, from start to finish, in the oven.
- Preheat the broiler to high and position a rack 4 to 6 inches below the heating element.
- Lightly brush a cast iron skillet with oil, and place the seasoned salmon fillets, skin-side down, inside.
- Broil the salmon until the top is nicely browned, 3 to 6 minutes (depending on how your desired level of doneness).
Can you cook fish in cast iron?
You can cook fish in cast iron by adding oil to a preheated pan.
How do I clean my cast-iron skillet after frying?
- Dry the pan with a paper towel.
- Let it cool down for 15 minutes or so, then pour water into it while scrubbing off any stuck food particles using steel wool.
- Wipe your dirty cast iron skillet with some oil to keep it from rusting and store.
Why do my fish stick to my cast iron skillet?
Fish is high in protein. Therefore, proteins will stick firmly when allowed to cool and denature gradually.
How do you cook fish fillets without sticking?
You can reduce the odds of sticking by using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and properly preheating it before adding oil.
How do you keep salmon from sticking to cast iron?
You can keep salmon from sticking to cast iron by preheating the pan properly before adding oil. Dry the salmon before cooking.