Best Frying Pan for Fish: The Best Sear Every Time
by HexClad Cookware
Whether you’re cooking cod, salmon, snapper, or swordfish, you need the best tools on your side to get the best dish possible. Here’s what you should look for in a fish frying pan.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Pan To Fry Fish?
Size, shape, and material are three of the most important attributes to think about when finding the right pan.
If you’re getting a pan specifically to cook fish, these attributes become even more crucial.
Cooking fish is a delicate art form, and multiple missteps can occur that end up turning your masterpiece into a nightmare.
One of the easiest pitfalls to avoid is overcrowding your pan. It can be tempting to fit as much in there as possible, but we beg you to give your fish space to breathe.
If you overcrowd the pan, your ingredients can end up leaking out too much moisture. This lowers the overall temperature of the pan, meaning that even high heat won’t be as effective as it once was. This is true when you’re making fish or another kind of meat or sautéeing any number of ingredients.
That being said, you need a pan that is large enough to comfortably accommodate all of the fish you’re making. Not only that, but a pan with more surface area is better at wicking moisture and will give you crispier skin.
If you don’t have a big enough pan to cook multiple fish at a time, it might be worth investing in one. You can also cook your fish in batches, but they might not all have a uniform sear afterward.
For an option with plenty of space, look no further than the HexClad 12” Frying Pan. It might take a bit longer for the entire pan to heat through, but you can rest assured that the final result will be fantastic.
Generally speaking, the best pan shape to invest in is a circular one.
This can become a bit more complicated when you are dealing with a long fish filet or perhaps a whole fish. There are some oval-shaped pans out there, but they don’t do a good job of conducting heat from a circular stovetop.
Instead, it’s better to use a larger pan but stick to a circular shape.
There’s no doubt that there are some advantages to both all-clad stainless steel and pre-seasoned cast iron pans, but they also have certain disadvantages that can’t be overlooked.
Cast iron is heavy, takes a long time to heat up, is a pain to clean, and is known for getting too hot in the handle. Meanwhile, stainless steel frying pans keep food stuck on their surface.
The last thing we want is to give potential home cooks a reason to order takeout. That’s why HexClad Hybrid Pans combine the best of cast iron and stainless steel while also including an effective nonstick surface. (What more can you ask for, really?)
The heat retention of cast iron makes it a juggernaut at cooking fish, so we made our pans the best and most even heaters available. Our pans are also as durable and aesthetically striking as stainless steel, so they look perfect on the stovetop — or the table.
HexClad earns its name due to the hexagonal pattern that adorns our cookware. The small raised hexagons on the surface heat the entire pan perfectly every time. The rest of the pan is treated with a non-stick coating infused with diamond dust.
And, yes, it’s exactly as awesome as it sounds.
If that weren’t enough already, the steel base of the nonstick skillet pan is magnetic, making it induction-ready. When you put together all of these attributes and add in the superior, even heat conductivity even when faced with high temperatures, HexClad is clearly the top pick.
This technology extends far beyond just cooking fish, though. A scratch-resistant saute pan of this caliber can cook all kinds of meats, vegetables, and more. If you want to kick breakfast up a notch, you can even employ the use of a high-quality griddle.
How Do You Keep Fish From Sticking to the Pan While Frying?
Fish sticking to the pan is a fate that none of us want to fall victim to. The process of avoiding it starts before you even put the fish in the pan. First, pat both sides of the fish as dry as possible.
Any moisture that’s left can interrupt the browning process and make the fish interact with the pan incorrectly.
Once your pan is sufficiently heated on medium-high and the oil in the pan is shimmery, add the fish. The fish will stick to the surface of the pan at first, and that’s okay — it’s an integral part of the browning process.
As the fish continues to cook, the skin will eventually release from the pan.
Once you can freely move the fish without it sticking at all, it’s time to flip. That’s right — the real key to keeping your fish from sticking to the pan is to be patient.
How Long Does It Take To Properly Fry Fish?
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question that applies across the board.
Inevitably, how long you have to cook your fish will depend on the size of the filet. However, it usually takes about three to four minutes on the first side.
Flip the fish, then give it about two to three more minutes. The meat of the fish should be opaque, but there’s another way to find out if it’s done.
What Temperature Should Fried Fish Be?
In order to be safe, fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the fish to find out if you’re there yet.
How Can I Achieve the Perfect Sear on Fried Fish?
When people talk about “sleeping with the fishes,” all we can hear is that getting that perfect crispy skin and tasty sear on your fish is dream-like. Achieving this dream is up to one thing, and one thing only: heat distribution.
Or even heat distribution, actually, if you want to get more specific.
If certain parts of your fish are perfectly cooked while others still need more time in direct contact with the surface of the pan, you will inevitably get an uneven cook.
Even the best fillets won’t be able to come back from being overcooked, so you have to be careful. You can help yourself achieve high-quality results by using high-quality cookware, like HexClad’s Hybrid Pans.
Since fish is so delicate, it’s much easier to cook it with a non-stick frying pan. However, the nonstick coating on the cooking surface makes it so that you can’t use a metal utensil, which is necessary for flipping fish.
Many pans with non-stick properties aren’t oven-safe or can’t go over about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to start your fish on the cooktop and then finish it in the oven, this can be a real problem. Our pans are oven-safe, and unlike a cast iron skillet, they are also dishwasher-safe.
If you are cooking fish with the skin on, score it, and then put it into the grill pan skin side down. Allow it to cook about three-quarters of the way, and then gently but confidently flip it over.
When made in the right type of pan, this will give you a great juxtaposition of textures. From the crisp of the skin to the flakiness of the fish itself, you and your fellow diners will be in for the best fish around.
The Best Pan for the Best Sear
Now that you know what to look for in a pan, all that’s left is to season your fish and get cooking!
With patience (and the right cookware), you’re sure to make a meal to remember.